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Shooting Baskets in the Dark

From Pastor Gary …

Shooting Baskets in the Dark

When I was a teen, I used to enjoy playing pick-up basketball games. My friend Jeff Bruner had a basketball court in his backyard. It was the most amazing thing to me at the time – 24-hour access to a hard court. (I probably didn’t check with Mr. and Mrs. Dick Bruner at the time about such access.)

Of course, it was nothing more than a pad of cement and a basketball goal. But for our neighborhood, it was like playing in Mackey Arena. Every summer evening we’d gather at Jeff’s house. His 6-11 brother Alan would sometimes join us – OK, maybe he was only 5-11, but he sure did seem tall - and we would play 3-on-3 games well into the evening.

As the day began to vanish, however, basketball fever was still running high. We continued to play into the twilight – a dangerous excursion if there ever was one. I mean, it’s tough to take a shot at a 10-foot basket when you can’t even see your shoes, let alone the rim. Every now and then, we might hear the swish of the net or the clang of the rim. Most of the time we were trying to protect ourselves from the ricochet of an errant shot attempt. And always we would argue whether the shot attempt was actually successful or not.

Since then, I’ve thought a great deal about shooting baskets in the dark and it seems we can find ourselves in a similar predicament. We can make decisions based on a little knowledge without the greater light of truth or justice. Likewise, in the dark, we usually do more harm than good – many bad things can be hidden under the cover of darkness. Instead of waiting for wisdom or seeking God’s will, we often make snap decisions that have terrible consequences further down the journey of life. When we try to dog paddle in the dark, we nearly always end up going under.

That is why light is such a powerful image for our faith. “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light,” Psalm 18:28 declares. “My justice will become a light to the nations…The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” Isaiah once proclaimed. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus told his disciples. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Not much can be accomplished in darkness. We need the light of faith, hope and love to keep our direction sound, to assure that our actions are true and to provide the wisdom needed in difficult days. Light is provided as we seek God together, pray for direction, study the Scriptures with open eyes and ears, and listen to one another in love. Let us pray that the church reflects the light of God and that we are not just going through the motions, shooting baskets in the dark.

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