Beyond the Game
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I had it all wrong.
And here’s what I mean.
My daughter Morgan was sucker-punched in the nose during her high school basketball game 30 minutes away from where we lived. I witnessed it, and as a protective father, I was infuriated because the opposing player who intentionally dealt the unprovoked hit went unpunished and was not called for a foul.
Meanwhile, Morgan remained calm as I walked with her and her assistant coach to the trainer’s area. Apart from a few scratches on her face, she was not injured. I was angrier than she was. As a protective father, it hurt to see my 18-year-old experience that. But she was resilient. She never got scared. She never got angry. She never tried to retaliate. In fact, she let the head coach know that she was fine and if he needed her, she would do whatever he needed her to do to help the team win.
And she did play.
And she played hard, giving maximum effort, never resorting to dirty play.
Her team would go on to lose by double digits. I’m usually meticulous about noting the final score, adding up her total stats, encouraging her highlights, and reviewing what could’ve been improved.
But tonight was different.
After the head coach gave his postgame talk, Morgan politely asked if she could lead the team in a closing prayer, requesting that they all hold hands. Her prayer was one of humility, thanks, unity, and redemption. Every player and every coach on the team kept their eyes closed.
Yes, their squad got beat badly. Yes, Morgan got hurt. Yes, Morgan could have played a better game.
But what happened that night went beyond the game. Many people witnessed the maturity and self-control of an 18-year-old girl who truly understood that being an example for Christ meant more than scoring a lot of points and winning a basketball game.
On the drive home, I asked Morgan what was going through her mind when the girl on the other team hit her. “Honestly, Daddy, I don’t know why my first reaction was to forgive her, even though I felt like I was seeing stars in the moment. I don’t want to give myself any credit. It’s what Jesus wanted me to do, so I just forgave her on the spot.”
Similarly in Matthew 9, Jesus first forgave the paralyzed man before healing him.
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you ... arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. (vv. 2, 6-7 NKJV)
Jesus wanted Morgan to forgive the offending player with the hope that those paralyzed by their sinful nature could one day walk with Christ after witnessing this act of grace and self-control.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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