To some it means warmer weather, flowering trees, and emerging from a long, cold winter. To others it promises that the end of another school year is in view and the stress of term papers, science projects and finals will be over and done (for a while anyway). Others think of it as the beginning of daylight saving time and longer evenings filled with sunshine and all kinds of outdoor activities.
For me, March can only mean one thing: Basketball!
Here in my adopted home of Georgia, the only collegiate sport that seems to draw much attention is football. Don’t misunderstand, I love football too, but in my native North Carolina, college basketball is in a whole different plane. While locally I might catch a few scores and highlights of the top 20 teams, or of the only two largest NCAA competitors in Georgia buried in the middle of a local sportscast, back home, basketball … ACC Basketball to be specific… is always the lead story!
This is especially true around this time of year when the conference tournament has just wrapped up (Yay Tarheels!!) and are poised on the beginning of the big NCAA Tournament.
As I was catching up on what happened outside the ACC this weekend and watching some of the amazing moves and spectacular buzzer beating shots, I heard someone say something that caught my attention…
“Great athletes play in space.”
What he was referring to was the discipline known as “creating separation.” Simply put, separation is the gap between the ball handler and the defender which allows him to execute a pass or shot without the defender being able to get a hand on the ball. Remember, while it may appear to casual watchers that the team is just moving randomly around the court, the players are always working toward separation, aggressively striving to create physical distance between themselves and their opponent so they will be better positioned to make a high percentage shot.
I think, the concept of creating separation is a fantastic discipline for Christians to employ in their lives too. So often, believers move in the wrong direction and become so hemmed in, smothered by temptation or limited in their options that they can’t get free to act or worse, completely lose sight of the goal.
Christians need to consciously move out into the open (toward righteous living) and away from the trap of selfish indulgence. Instead of getting double teamed by compromise and sin and backing away, we need free ourselves up and advance toward the goal of becoming like Christ. (Rom. 8:29) This demands that we be constantly vigilant to changing strategies, identify our weaknesses that can be exploited by our opponent (Satan) and be ready to take a time-out to regroup when we fall behind. And in the times when we find ourselves facing fierce opposition and heavily guarded on all sides, it’s then we need to return to the basics and be well coached by the words of Paul: “keep away from youthful passions.” Actively move away from ungodly enticements to “pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace,” and work “in company with others (our teammates) who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Tim 2:22
Once we learn to create that separation between ourselves and those who will hinder (or do us harm), we’ll be better positioned to score in those key moments when the game is on the line.