I grew up in the heart of Miami on the outskirts of the neighborhood that is notorious for shooting hoops and eating good ole Haitian food. In Little Haiti, we played basketball 24/7 and seven days a week, well maybe not seven days a week, Haitians don’t play about church on Sunday, it’s usually an all-day affair. Still, basketball was the lifeblood of our community. So when I decided to try out for our middle school basketball team, which happened to be the best in the county, it was a monumental moment for me. I grew up playing street basketball from as early as eight years old. However, I had never played organized Basketball.
Street basketball tends to focus on the individual whereas organized basketball centers on the team. In streetball, the focus is on individual skill, whereas in organized basketball there’s a systematic and well-thought-out game plan to be executed. Learning the differences between the two was a huge adjustment for me. I spent most of my life, at least to that juncture, playing ball in a fashion that didn’t consider the bigger picture. A basketball team has five players and when all five understands their role and gets the bigger picture, it results in an unstoppable united force that puts the causes of the team over the single individual. I barely made my middle school team because of the simple fact that I was slow to understand my role in light of the bigger picture. I remember my coach telling me, “Son, you’re extremely talented, but the only reason I’m letting you on this team is because I believe I could get you to understand your role and help you to see the bigger picture of the game.”
In the beginning God (Genesis 1:1), these four words are load with theological depth and meaning. It doesn’t get any bigger than God. God starts it all, God sustains it all, and God finishes it all. It is all about God. We are 60 days into the New Year, and I wonder how many of us still haven’t grasped the bigger picture and the overarching meaning of life? Perhaps, we have gotten it at some point, but have now shifted the focus towards ourselves or our personal agendas. It took me months to understand the bigger picture of organized basketball. Help defense, ball movement, and setting screens were all foreign and non-essential concepts to me until I saw the bigger picture.
It is only when we comprehend and keep in the forefront of our minds the bigger picture that we’ll then be able to achieve our God-given purpose and potential.
When I realized that organized basketball was not about how cool it looked when I put the ball between my legs or how smooth my jumper was, but it was about doing whatever it took to reach our intended objective as a team. It was about the trust, brotherhood, and love that was formed as we moved towards a common goal. When I started playing with this in mind, it didn’t matter whether I was coming off the bench to give my teammates a breather or if I was setting a screen to free up someone else for the shot. It all changed for me once I saw what it was all about.
We only find the enduring courage to seek God, eat well, exercise, share our faith, love our spouse sacrificially, and make disciples when we’re starting from the right place and when our eyes are fixed on the bigger picture. Once our eyes shift from God to ourselves or anything else besides Him, then everything else becomes distorted. We lose our vigor. We stop loving our spouse because they haven’t done anything for us lately. We stop exercising because no one has complimented on how good we look, and we lose our gusto and zeal to seek God because we don’t feel the goosebumps during our favorite devotional songs. The fuel to achieve and live out these things don’t originate from us or our circumstances but from God himself.
As I studied the New Testament this past week, I realized the crucial factor for every single one of the disciples who accomplished great feats for the Lord, they all had their eyes locked on the Prize. They understood and realized that they were a part of a bigger story. They understood that no act done in the name of Jesus and with the focus on Jesus is ever in vain. They realized that if what they did was started with God than God would sustain it and thus ultimately complete it. It was from God Almighty that these men and women derived their courage to bring the gospel to the nations. The author of Hebrews tells us some of these followers of Jesus shut the mouth of lions, some of them conquered kingdoms, and some enforced justice. While others suffered mocking, others were sawn in two, and some suffered imprisonment. How were they so willing to accept their roles regardless of what it meant for them?
These early followers of Christ understood what it was all about. They got it. They realized that the most significant honor bestowed upon us in this life is the honor of reflecting and mirroring the one in whom all of life is about. They had one magnificent obsession. They had one Holy fixation— a desire to glorify and honor Christ. They lived out this verse: Hebrews 12:2 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith.”
When we start with Jesus, and we continue to make our lives all about Jesus, then we cannot fail. So let your love for your spouse be about reflecting the glory of Jesus even when they don’t notice, make your exercise and eating habits be about stewarding your body in obedience to Jesus, and let your devotional life be an expression of gratitude and thanksgiving to Jesus. For whether we give a cup of water in His name or whether we lead many souls in His name the worth and value are found in that it is all started, sustained, and points towards Jesus!!
Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement as I journey through seminary. I am eternally grateful for your investment in me as I, in turn, seek to invest my life for His renown and glory.
Eyes On The Prize!