Summer basketball (a limited version this year) takes place for high schools each June. It’s an opportunity to train, learn, compete, and begin plans for the upcoming season. Having a team that won both the regular-season championship title as well as the final tournament championship, I relish the opportunity to prep and see what may lie ahead for me this next season.
There’s something about winning, where you fulfill your goals and take a photo with big cheesy smiles and holding up a sign saying that “we’re number one!”. I’ve been blessed to be a part of various teams over the decades that have let me experience that on many levels.
It doesn’t last either.
Wayne Simeon was an outstanding collegiate and NBA basketball player. He is also a very committed follower of Christ. After his NBA team won the championship, and after the parade and week-long, city-wide celebration ended, Wayne was reminded of a scripture…
For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
1 Peter 1:24-25 NIV
Wayne Simeon noted how the glory and joy of the championship faded, in some ways leaving the ones who stood victorious a little hollow. Thankfully he knew the joy of the Lord and that he was still heading towards a different finish line and a different victory.
Peter, who we just quoted, also said this while speaking to leaders in the faith…
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
1 Peter 5:4 NIV
A crown of glory that will never fade.
Have you ever thought of that being what lies ahead for you? A crown of glory that will never fade?
Or do you have a much smaller, more manageable picture of heaven?
Sunday we talked about how a Christian is spurred onwards by the victory of Christ that has been accomplished for us, but also by the victory we will partake in when the new heavens and new earth are brought fully about.
A crown of glory that will never fade.
A life lived that pushed to the end to live for Jesus.
A finish line reached while still in full stride.
Often, as Christians, we speak of getting to hear the words “Well done my good and faithful servant” at the end of our days on earth and the beginning of our days in what comes next. But why is it that we don’t continue with the rest of the phrase that Jesus spoke?
“Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21
“because you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many” Luke 19
Hearing “well done” is no doubt a wonderful thing. Being rewarded by the Lord of Lord’s and King of kings is another level entirely.
This explains to me why Paul uses sports illustrations to a degree. Talking about beating/disciplining his body, working hard to not be disqualified, and pressing on to attain the prize. Paul knew that heaven isn’t merely some kind of retirement home, but that the story continues on to a much grander setting and the burdens and sorrows of yesterday are forgotten in the joy of what lies ahead.
So I coach these young ladies up. I push them to see their best and be their best as basketball players. We laugh together and celebrate together, and we talk about winning another season and standing on top at the end once again. It is a blast (most the time). We do it all for a moment of glory that will fade away in time.
Yet I hope that my time spent with them, and my time spent doing all that I do, is counting towards a much greater goal. A crown of glory that will never fade.
Do you know that the way you work, the way you relate to your family, the way you think and pray and live day by day, are all a part of a lifelong race towards a glorious finish?
Do you know that the struggles and pains and obstacles that you have to overcome are more often distractions thrown at you by an enemy who hopes you give up?
Do you know that a great company of saints is cheering you onward and anticipating your arrival where you might not only hear “well done” but also hear “come and share your master’s happiness!”??? (Hebrews 11-12)
If not, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your view of life and the life that is to come. Maybe it is time to use the wonderfully powerful gift of imagination and creativity that we are given, to picture what that day will be like. Maybe it is time to reset some life goals and hopes and reams around more than our very short years here.
In so doing, I hope you see the loving arms of Christ awaiting you, and I hope you see, in one of His hands, a gleaming crown fashioned especially for you.