(Disclaimer: This post is a little bit all over the place, but I am going to land the plane eventually. I do have a point, it just might take me a minute to get to it.)
Our mission was clear when we launched our book: “God use us and this book to lower the divorce rate.” That is a big goal, but we serve a very big God.
I (Justin) underestimated the spiritual intensity, spiritual battle and spiritual and emotional fatigue of that goal. We have been so blessed to share our story; so blessed with the response to our book; blown away with the opportunity to speak at several churches and conferences. God is answering that prayer.
At the same time, many of the stories we hear are heartbreaking. People are hurting; marriages are broken; sin is dark and heavy and the spiritual battle is intense. We’ve spent the past two weeks somewhat hunkered down, asking God to restore us; to rejuvenate our hearts and spirits. We needed a break. We needed a retreat.
Two weeks ago, we got an email from a person that was at a church we spoke at the day before. He appreciated our story and our ministry and wanted to minister to us. He works for the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and wanted to give us tickets to the SEC tourney in Nashville. Parking passes, VIP hospitality, court-side seats.
For our family, and our love for basketball, there isn’t a better gift. It was an answer to prayer and a breath of rejuvenation. (On Friday, Isaiah got picked to represent LSU in the halftime hot shot competition.)
Our oldest son Micah plays high school basketball for Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) and their team had made it to the state championship. They would play and need to win 3 games to repeat as state champs.
So this past weekend, our family went from the SEC tourney to the state tourney and back. Thursday afternoon we got to watch two SEC basketball games and then left to go to Micah’s game.
Micah’s team is unreal. The starting five are all juniors and each has received at least one Division 1 college scholarship offer. Micah is a really good player but plays behind some very amazing players so his playing time is usually 1-3 minutes per game.
On Thursday, he played the last four minutes of their first round game at state. He had a wide open lay-up but bobbled the ball and the ref called travel and waved off the basket. We were so bummed. He was bummed.
CPA played on Friday with a chance to go to the state championship game. Micah didn’t play Friday but the team won and earned a place in the championship game at 6PM on Saturday night. Trish and I were so nervous that he wouldn’t get a chance to score in the state championship again.
Saturday morning, we were leaving for the SEC tourney and Micah was leaving for a shoot around and Trish said, “I really want us to pray with Micah before we leave. Justin, will you pray for him?”
What do you say in a prayer about a basketball game? What do you say to God when your greatest desire for your son is simply to score in a game? How do you pray about that? Does God even care about basketball?
So I prayed, “God, this is the most selfish prayer of all time. You have a lot more important prayers to answer, but this prayer is close to our hearts. Please, give Micah an opportunity to score today. Just give him another opportunity to score. That is our prayer.”
CPA dominated that championship game. Then with :39 left in the game, the bench emptied and Micah went into the game with our team up by 20. We all stood to honor the starters and cheer on the team as they let the clock wind down. Trish and I were grateful Micah got in the final game of the year.
Micah caught the ball on the teams next possession and went to dribble and was fouled. He went to the free throw line with a 1 and 1 opportunity. Make the first, get a second. Miss the first, miss your opportunity to score. Then this happened:
I spent some time reflecting on that whole experience and I felt like God reminded me of a few things.
1. I pray for what I ought to pray for not what is really in my heart.
My prayers can become routine and it is easy to just be proper with God and not honest with God. It probably isn’t proper to pray for your son to score in a game…but it was honest. If I’m truly honest with you, it was probably the most honest prayer I’d prayed in while. It felt refreshing just to pray it. I want to pray with that kind of honesty more consistently.
2. God answers even the selfish prayers.
Do I think my son scoring had anything to do with God answering that prayer? I think it had everything to do with it. God probably doesn’t care about basketball but God definitely cares about our heart. If I hadn’t prayed that prayer I wouldn’t have given God a chance to answer it. God didn’t communicate his love for basketball with that free throw…He communicated his love for me and my family.
3. God is interested in the details of your life.
What prayers are you not praying that God longs to be a part of? Does God care about your car or your job or your vacation destination? Probably not as much as you care about those things. But here is what God is passionate about…YOU. He cares about you and he longs for you and I to share all of our heart, all of our requests, all of our most honest, most selfish, most intimate prayers with Him.
Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Maybe part of delighting in the Lord is sharing all of our heart with him.