“Get the Good Gift”
Well, it has been an interesting week hasn’t it? Maybe not for you, but the last 10 days have been… different for me. Some days you wake up and aren’t sure what’s going to happen, so you just go with what you feel like in the moment. Days off are great days for this. There’s also days when you go into work without a clear list of what you are going to do, but something may come up and there ends up being lots to do!
The last few months haven’t been exactly what I’ve expected. Many of you know I had discovered a place where I can drop in and play basketball once a week. This was great because I felt I wasn’t in good enough shape and this would help me get started in the right direction.
Be careful what you ask for. Isn’t that how the old saying goes? A few months into this return to basketball I sustained a serious blow to the ribs from someone who doesn’t quite understand basketball very well. The injury eventually sent me to the ER to get checked out. It also kept me out of playing for a month while I healed. My attempts at returning back to a healthier lifestyle were put on hold.
Since I turned 36 back in April, I’ve discovered that your body ages much quicker than your mind. While my brain may still be quick to act, it takes a little longer for my body to respond. It seems to want to ask the question, “Are you sure?” before it actually decides to do anything.
And let’s not even talk about the things which happens in your body which sends you to the ER by ambulance early on a Saturday morning. I wouldn’t wish kidney stones on any of you. All I want to say is, who knew something so small could cause so much trouble. I also want to thank David and Norma for filling in the gaps last week while I was away and hopefully healing.
We wonder why all these things happen to us. We’re told many times God loves us and wants us to do well in life. There are even preachers out there who say God wants us to have a great job, a beautiful home and a couple fancy cars in the driveway. After all, didn’t we just read that Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive” and “how much more will the heavenly Father give to those who ask him”?
Ask and you shall receive. That’s what we remember. If we ask God for something, he’s going to give it to us. Jesus said so, and we just read it.
Well, he didn’t say just that. Jesus didn’t say exactly what I just said he did. Jesus didn’t say “how much more with the heavenly Father give to those who ask him.” Jesus was a little more precise in what God will give. What Jesus said was, “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus reminds us that we won’t give someone something they don’t need. If someone needs food, we’ll give them food. We don’t give them something that will hurt them. We know what is right, and we know what it means to take care of someone else. We know to give people what they need.
And that’s what God will do for us. That’s what Jesus is talking about. God will give us what we need if we ask. The trick is to know what to ask for.
I’ve been reading Max Lucado’s book, It’s Not About Me. He starts off by reminding us that it really isn’t about us. In our culture we are brought up to believe we should strive for all we can, that we are to make our own lives and not wait for someone else to do it for us. We are brought up to believe it is all about ‘me’. I am the one who is most important, I do what I want to do before anything else.
Does this work? When I worked in a global company I have no idea how many times I heard that we need to be as profitable and attractive to investors as possible so people will buy our stocks so we can be the best company in the world. All decisions were made in an effort to please the shareholders. If the shareholders wouldn’t like it, then it didn’t happen. If the shareholders are happy, then the company is happy because it’s making lots of money. That company is now a tiny shell compared to what it once was. It got so caught up in making money and pleasing people it lost focus and died. If a company could have an ego, this one’s was huge.
If you follow sports at all, it has been an interesting summer. There are lots of ‘free agents’ out there. Players whose contracts have expired and are looking for a new place to play. Teams in the NHL and NBA are trying to woo and bring them to their cities. This year is interesting because in the NBA some of the biggest players in the sport are in this position.
Lebron James was the biggest free agent out there. He’s a player in the NBA and considered by many to be the best basketball player in the world. He’s won the MVP trophy the last two years in Cleveland, but never the championship. He went on live television a couple of week ago to announce to the world he was leaving Cleveland for Miami for a whole lot of money, and to join with two other superstars who had already signed there in an effort to win a championship.
Lebron James left a city that had worked extremely hard to offer him as much support as possible. It’s just down the road from where he grew up. It brought in some of the greatest players it could find to win him a championship, and when it seemed they were really close, they were the favourites last year, he left for a more attractive option.
But we can’t blame Lebron for this. He was just doing what he, and his entire generation has been told. Go for the biggest prize today. Forget anyone else, just do what is right for you. Make a name for yourself. Go for the biggest prize.
Lebron got what he asked for. A whole lot of money, and the chance to win a championship right now. History has yet to tell the end of this story, so it will be interesting to watch it play out over the next year.
I want to tell you about another basketball player I read about in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704853404575323043046894012.html). He played in the NBA in the early 90’s. His name is Manute Bol. He was the tallest player in the NBA at 7’7 but only weighed 225lbs. He didn’t even need to jump in order to dunk the basketball. He didn’t have a lot of skills, he couldn’t score against the stronger, heavier players, but he was attractive because he towered over everyone else in the league. He blocked a lot of shots. And that was his role on the team, keep the other players from scoring by blocking their shots.
Manute Bol was a Sudanese immigrant to the US. He was also a Christian. Apparently he gave nearly his entire fortune of six million dollars to help Sudanese refugees. After he retired and his money began to dry up, he did whatever he could to raise money to send back to his home country. Often this led to humiliation, such as being a clown, entering a celebrity boxing match with a well known football player, William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry. He rented himself out to a hockey team who played him in one game. He also took a turn at being a horse jockey. Every act causing him to be ridiculed in the press. But again, he did it to get paid and to help others.
Unfortunately Manute Bol died last month at the age of 47. He died after acquiring a painful skin disease that contributed to his death. He got the disease doing relief work in Sudan.
Most NBA players go broke spending their fortunes on cars, jewellery and other lavish expenses. Someone on Twitter said, “Manute Bol went broke building hospitals.”
Manute Bol served as a man who believed in helping others. He knew how to give what people needed. He lived as he believed God was asking him to live. And that was not to use his fame to build up his own bank account, house and garage, but to help build up a country and people that were suffering immensely.
There’s a big contrast in the two figures. One who is on top of the world and making choices which will benefit him most. The other quietly serves, giving all he can to people in need.
Ask and you shall receive.
Max Lucado quotes two verses from Paul’s letters. The first is from Romans 11, “God made all things, and everything continues through him and for him. To him be the glory forever.”
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul says, “There is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him.”
It’s not about us. We are but a blink in the eye of time. God created all this, and we are called to care for it and for one another. We exist for God, to take care of what He has created, and to live as He would have us live.
Where do we start? Well, we should ask for the right thing. We should ask for what Jesus tells us God wants to give us. God wants to give us His Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus said, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
What a place to start. Ask God to show you His glory. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit. Let God show you the way. There’s nothing better we can ask for. Because it’s not about us, it’s all about Him and our relationship with God our creator through Jesus Christ His son.