Like most people in the area of the world I live in, last Thursday night, I went from depression to exhilaration within a few minutes, 7 minutes and 15 seconds to be exact. The Mavericks were down 15 points to a Superstar team composed of people who really, really want to win a championship, and who are also really, really good. To say that the Mavericks playing the Heat are like David taking on Goliath is appropriate on so many levels. And the fact that they won the 2nd game away in such dramatic fashion is inspiring to say the least.
Now I know the way professional sports works. I’m writing this post a few hours before game 3 of the NBA finals tip off. There is a chance that the momentum we had from game 2 won’t carry over to game 3. There is a chance that Goliath beats David, that is after all, what Goliath’s tend to do. But as long as I live I’ll never forget one thing about game 2.
Toward the end of the fourth quarter, the ABC commentators started showing video feed of the American Airlines center, but not the one in Miami (where the game was actually being played) but the one in Dallas. It was filled with thousands of people who were watching the game on a big screen. Think about that for a second, thousands of people came to a stadium to watch a TV screen that they could probably have had a better experience watching from home. But they came to a stadium to cheer on a team that wasn’t even there, and couldn’t even here them.
In Genesis 12, God calls a guy named Abraham to leave the town he grew up in for a completely unknown experience, and to trust in a completely unknown God. This was in a day and age where the average person didn’t travel over 30 miles from where they grew up…in their entire lifetime. But Abraham breaks that mold and travels off into the great unknown. If you are a believer in Jesus today, it’s because Abraham did that. But when he did it he didn’t know about you. He just had to trust, which he did, and it paid off.
There was a guy named Moses who had gone through a few rough spots in his life. He had the reverse rags to riches experience, he’d started off as a prince, had a scandal, fled into exile and then turned into a shepherd in a land where no one knew him. To say that he’s life had taken a left turn is an understatement. He’s at rock bottom, and then a burning bush starts talking to him. The bush tells him to go talk to Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world, as well as someone who personally knew Moses. And to demand that Pharaoh stops treating the Israelite people cruelly.
Probably the hardest part of this whole process, was that in order to do this, Moses has to face his own demons of failure and what might have been. But he does. He leads a band of slaves that turns into a nation, that turns into a promise to heal the world. He pushes through the hard steel of life, and finds that God can be trusted even in the hardest moments (maybe especially in the hardest moments).
There was Rahab. She had a night job, one that you wouldn’t write home about. If prostitutes then were anything like sexual workers today, she probably hated herself, but the money was addictive. Maybe she had some inner demons that only got quieter when she sold herself. But one day, some spies came in to town, and they were telling a different story than the one she was used to. There was a God who was not capricious. He didn’t arbitrarily demand things like child sacrifice. In fact to this God, people mattered, she mattered.
So Rahab took a risk against the status quo that surrounded her. At great personal risk she bet that the God of this band of recently freed slaves could be trusted. And so she risked her life and her family, she trusted and it paid off.
There is a reason that the author of Hebrews tells these stories to the church of Hebrews. They were starting to face persecution, and they needed to know that this was normal for the story they belonged to. But Hebrews doesn’t just leave it there. Look at what Hebrews says right after telling all these stories:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Those heroes of the faith are watching us. In Heaven, the place where everything is as God intends, in that realm, they haven’t forgotten about this one. In fact they are cheering us on!
So Dallas is down by 15 with just a few minutes remaining. They are in a hostile environment, that wants nothing more than for them to lose. Everyone is cheering against them where they are. But….
I have to wonder if at any point, someone pointed out that just a planeride away there were thousands of people who weren’t chanting for Lebron or Wade (henceforth known as the Emperor and DarthVader ) but for them.
There is a sense in which this is exactly what the Scriptures are trying to help us see. Things may be hard here, you may be going through a dark season in your life, you may feel isolated and alone, but you are not. The heavens are cheering us on. In another realm than the one you are currently immersed in, there is a real group of people who are routing for you to accomplish God’s plans of bringing there to here.
So don’t call it a comeback, this is more than just the little guy rising up to beat the giant. It’s about the way things really are, and the way things will one day be.
Which is a bit bigger than any NBA Finals.
But I still hope the Mavericks win.