Not long ago, I cheered for the Guardians, a bunch of boys training to be men on a basketball court.
On a Saturday in February, the Guardians were comprised of sweaty home-and privately- educated boys making their feet, hands, and a round, orange ball move from one end of the court to the other. Some of the time, they’d shoot. Some of the time, they’d score. All the time, they played like it was the most important thing in the world. At that moment, it was. Play was work and the work was good.
“So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?” (Ecclesiastes 3:22 ESV)
My husband and our daughter and I drove an hour to watch the game because Jacob, a sixteen-year-old junior, was on the team. Jacob belongs to Joe and Angela. Joe and Angela belong to God. God, in His infinite goodness, lets us be a part of that. We all go to church together. We are a family. Our church motto is “Knowing Jesus Christ. Growing in Grace. Enjoying God and one another.” So this is what we do. We go the distance to sit in chairs on the side lines and yell for (and at) sweaty teenagers who work at play.
The Church – visible.
I must admit, I’m not a big basketball fan. I don’t bleed blue for the UK Wildcats. I don’t bleed red for the U of L Cardinals. If hard-pressed I might be willing to bleed a little for the Cincinnati Reds, but that’s a whole different ballgame, and a story for another day.
Because we love these hoop shooting family members, we got into the game. We cheered, clapped, held our breaths with each shot attempt, and ate junk food from the concession stand. Much like everything else in our lives, we turned the game time into teaching time for our own young one.
- Math: Six minutes times four quarters; statistics; probability.
- Language Arts: Offense, defence, fouls, home and guest – vocabulary all.
- Science: Gravity, motion, trajectory.
- Social Studies: There is no “I” in team; and the peculiarities of free throw line rituals.
- Bonus elective – Music! The rhythm of dribbles, the rests in passes, the cadence of cheers and groans.
My teacher heart longed to push pause and whip out a chalkboard, diagram the logic, the history, the strategies, the goal. After a time, it occurred to me that basketball appreciation is really understanding enough of what is going on to know when to appropriately groan.
We groan at their scores and our misses. We groan at our fouls and the referee’s questionable calls. We groan at out of bound balls and those things called turnovers that don’t remotely resemble the tasty pastries filled with fruit. Basketball appreciation boils down to taxonomy. What belongs where, and what to do with it in its rightful place.
And that leads us to the Guardians part.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
This is the guiding verse of the team.
Defend. Keep. Maintain what is. Guard.
Much like basketball. Much like life.
What belongs where in our hearts, and what do we do with those heart things once they arrive?
One day, if these players keep aiming at manhood via a God-ward direction, they’re going to do just fine.
One day, if we – as a family, as a people – learn what belongs where, and what to do with it in its rightful place, we might be just fine, too.
Go, Guardians, go.