A sweet gift and guest post from my friend, Sheila Mangum:
It was well into the second quarter of the high school basketball game when the senior captain of the home team showed up late.
Just that morning his mother unexpectedly passed away from a sudden hemorrhage. She’d been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer when she took the fatal turn.
Some of the team had been at the hospital with their grieving friend. Although they had an important game that night, the guys wanted to cancel it. Brokenhearted, the senior captain encouraged the team to play.
You can imagine everyone’s surprise when this young man came out to root for his team.
His coach asked him if he wanted to sit on the bench with his teammates.
“No,” he replied. “I want to play.”
Game rules prevented anyone not on the pre-game roster to play unless the opposing team was granted a technical foul that would give them two free throws. It was a tight game, but his coach willingly traded the points to comfort his player.
But that is not where the compassion stopped.
The other coach wasn’t interested in the free throws. He wanted to let the brokenhearted player just play. With no penalties. This coach and the referees argued over the rules until the referees won with, “Rules will not be broken.”
So, after a brief conversation with his coach, the visiting team’s senior captain took his place on the free throw line.
Giving his coach an understanding nod, he dribbled the ball and threw it two feet. The crowd stared in wonder as the ball rolled off the court. The second free throw landed at his feet. He had purposefully missed guaranteed points.
This gesture of sportsmanship ignited a standing ovation. Applause roared throughout the gym. The crowd witnessed a rare act of kindness birthed out of the goodness of the visiting coach and captain’s hearts.
We don’t often hear about people taking hold of opportunities to demonstrate such graciousness. But every day we can see God’s goodness if we simply take the time. Psalm 23:6 tells us that “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Before the brokenhearted player even arrived at the game, God’s goodness followed him, ready to show up when he needed it most. Goodness tapped two coaches on the shoulders. Goodness whispered in the hearts of a group of teenagers.
God’s goodness is here for us as well. We find it in His daily care and love, especially in times of hardship. But we have to “get in the game” to see it. If we’re checked out of life, not spending time in prayer, or not actively seeking to recognize God’s goodness, we’ll miss it. True, His goodness might not always seem as evident as a team opting out of free points in a basketball game, but God’s goodness is all around us.
Could His kindness and love be the encouraging word or hug from a friend? Perhaps it’s peace that comes unexpectedly from God’s Word, a sermon, or prayer. Maybe it’s the conversation with the grocery store clerk that brought a smile to your face.
This young man who lost his mother probably had no idea how he was going to ease the pain that surrounded him. You may be wondering that very thing as well. This is why God promises, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
God wants to be closer to you than the pain. One way He does this is by following you with His goodness and showing up through the hands and hearts of others.
I cannot tell you who won the last Super Bowl. I don’t know who the Major League’s MVP is. There’s no way I can spout off the NBA lineup. What I can tell you about is the day God’s goodness followed a crushed young man into a gymnasium during a high school basketball game and made His goodness known. I can tell you he played the rest of the game, scoring ten points that led to his team’s victory.
But most importantly, I can tell you that God’s goodness is following you. Will you get in the game and look for it? God’s goodness is following you and wants to be closer to you than the pain. Lastly, will you be God’s hand of goodness to someone today
Sheila’s Prayer for You
I love you! You alone are God. (Deuteronomy 4:39) Besides You there is no God and in that we rejoice. (Isaiah 44:6-7) Thank you Father that Your goodness is following my friend. (Psalm 23:6) You daily look for ways to love on your children. (Psalm 143:8) You hourly direct their steps towards what is good and best for them. (Psalm 32:8) Every minute of the day is designed to envelop them in Your everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) You think of my friend every second of the day! Your thoughts are too vast to count. (Psalm 139:17-18) May they not miss a second of Your attention. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Thank you for promising to be closer than the pain crushing their heart. (Psalm 34:18) You are compassionate and You are completely Faithful to love them devotedly. (Lamentations 3:22-23) I ask You to continue placing miracles in their paths. (John 2:11) Open eyes to the marvelous ways Your goodness has shown up in their lives already. (Job 37:5) You are not a man that you would lie. (Numbers 23:19) Therefore, when You say Your goodness follows them it is completely true. May Your child be ever mindful of Your very near Presence today. (Exodus 33:15) May they prepare to be amazed. (1 Samuel 12:16)
Oh and Father, may You be blessed when they turn around, like the one leper, to thank you for turning their mourning into dancing. (Luke 17:15-19 and Psalm 30:11-12)
May it be so!
In the Mighty Name of Jesus we have prayed,
Amen and Amen
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