The Great Basketball Challenge

We all decided to go to the park.
Ross and I needed the walk, our three grandsons needed the space to release their energy, and our daughter and her husband were keen on some exercise. We took a basketball.
 
We left the house, crossed the road and wandered down the pathway into the park while the boys raced ahead and claimed the basketball court. 
Then the game was on!
When it came to teams, I think it was basically Joel (son-in-law) against the rest of us (actually, them – I was the cheer-squad).
Which was SO unfair – for the rest of them. Joel stands well over 10ft tall and his wingspan must be several meters in both directions. AND he broke all the rules .. well, that’s the way this Nanny saw it from the sideline 🙂
There was a lot of running, shouting, puffing and panting, and laughing.
Rachel, reliving memories from her High School Basketball days, was amazing with her defence, securing the ball many times, and landing some outstanding goals! Even Pa managed to impress his grandsons (and me) with a few awesome shots.
The boys, Zion, Rome and Knoxie gave the game 100% and just kept up momentum hounding their dad for that ball. But he was too fast, too big, too fit. (and maybe a tad competitive?)
But after a while, the boys’ enthusiasm began to wane. There was less laughter, and tears of frustration began to emerge. Little Knoxie wandered off to play on the slide, and few comments like “it’s not fair!” and “you cheated!” began to change the tone of play.
And then the game changed.
Joel, after showing his boys how it should be done, now got alongside them to show them it could be done. 
They’d experienced enough failure, now it was time to experience success.
He ‘let’ them snatch the ball from him, and lifted them up so they could succeed at throwing the ball in the goal. It’s amazing how the boys responded  – suddenly there was hope!
A new energy came from somewhere, and the game regained its enthusiasm with shouts of “Yesss!!” as ball after after ball landed through the hoop.  Finally light began to fade and it was time to go home for dinner.
As I looked over my not-so-clear photos later I thought about how much our family basketball game reflected God’s heart when it comes to the game of life.
God has specifically designed a life-purpose for each of us, and deposited gifts within us to help us achieve that goal.  He shows us how to play the game, and comes alongside to help us reach our potential.
He loves to watch us ‘have a go’. Although He doesn’t expect us to get it right every time, He does expect us to develop our gifts and bear fruit from the investment He has deposited in us.
He positions us amongst more experienced people – parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, friends – so we can learn from those who have gone before. 
And He places us amongst peers – our  family, the Church – so that we can learn the value of teamwork, and experience the exhilaration of living for a cause greater than ourselves.
Family times.
Life lessons
Purpose.
Success.

“Stories we have heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – God’s fame and fortune, the marvellous things He has done.”
(Psalm 78) 

 

The Masked Crusader

 

This morning my 2 yr old grandson, Knoxie, came to me and asked for my help. 
He was trying to put a mask on his face. Knoxie’s toybox has all manner of superhero masks, but this wasn’t one of them. This morning Knox had found a different kind of mask to wear. 

It was one of those masks you are given on aeroplanes to help you sleep. He had the right idea about placing this mask across his face, but he just couldn’t manage to get the elastic bands over his forehead and positioned around the back of his head. 
So I bent down and helped out.
“There you go!” I said as I stood up.
Knoxie turned around, poised to walk off down the hall.
“You can’t walk around with that on Knoxie,” I said, You’ll bump into something.”
“No, Nanny”, was his response as he set off down the hall.

It came as no surprise that about 5 seconds later I heard – THUMP!
Followed by –  “WAHhhhh….”
The Masked Crusader had hit the wall.
I found him sitting on the floor in tears, still masked. I picked him up, hugged him and repeated my earlier advice, “Knoxie, you can’t walk around with that mask on. You’ll bump into something.”
Taking the mask off his poor little head, I put him down on the floor and looked at the egg that had appeared on his forehead. 
Still sniffling, he took the mask out of my hand and attempted to put it back on, once again asking my help.
So I obliged, repeating the same warning, with added emphasis.
“Now don’t walk around Knoxie or you’ll bump into something again.”
“No Nanny,” came the reply, again.
Off he went. Before I could stop him he tripped over the pram which was lying in the hall.
And this time he cried even louder. One of those I’m seriously hurt  cries. I went over and picked him up. My poor little masked crusader cried like his heart would break. He buried his little face (still masked) into my neck and sobbed. 
I felt his pain. 
Tears welled up in my own eyes … but I’m rather ashamed to say at this point that the tears flowing from my eyes were not the result of empathy. Rather they were caused by a desperate attempt to stifle an incredibly irresistible urge to laugh hysterically. 
Heartless grandmother.
I removed the mask and examined the damage. Not only did Knoxie have an egg on his forehead, he now had one across his eyebrow to match. And a cut on his eyelid.
We went to the freezer, I got some ice, put it in a cloth and applied it to his eye. We then sat on the lounge while he calmed down and watched the end of Playschool.
After a few minutes, deciding  that eating the ice was a better option than holding it on his head, he jumped down from my lap and set off, maskless, to play something else.
 
So funny, yet so sad.
Knoxie wanted so badly to wear that mask and to do all the things the masked action heroes do in the cartoons his big brothers watch on TV.
He just didn’t understand what I understood. And he decided not to heed my advice.
He couldn’t see the relationship between being masked and the pain which he was bound to experience in the very near future. His lack of experience and understanding created a lack of foresight. He was setting himself up for failure. His noble intentions to save the world were thwarted by his failure to listen to sound advice! Twice.
 
Knoxie, the Masked Crusader, reminded me later in the day of how easy it is for me to be lacking in foresight. It’s possible for me to make wrong choices in life simply through lack of knowledge and experience. It’s possible to ignore warnings or advice because my desire to reach that goal, to fulfil that dream is more important to me than the preparation of the foundations that will be needed to support it, or of my understanding of the cost involved. How dangerous is it to wander through life wearing a mask of ignorance!

I’m blessed to have wise friends and family members who are willing to impart into my life from their wealth of experience and knowledge.  
But what’s an even more important source of wisdom to me is the Word of God, the Bible. This provides both the foundation and the framework for every aspect of my life. I’m committed to studying it continually so that I don’t make the same mistake Knoxie did –  bumping my way through life sustaining unnecessary injuries.
I want to be able to see clearly as I move forward on my crusade through life to save the world!




 
 

The Unlived Life

             He shuffled up to our table, coffee in one hand, umbrella and newspaper in the other. I noticed his hands were trembling as he placed first the coffee, then the paper and umbrella down on the table. He slowly removed his backpack and put it on the ground. He sat down on the bench seat opposite us, bent over and pulled an aluminium ashtray from his backpack, then carefully positioned it on the table next to his coffee. Next, he reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a cigarette – the kind you roll yourself – and lit it up.
             I watched him hoping to make eye contact so I could say hello, but he kept his head down as if he was unaware we were there, or he just didn’t care. He wore one of those caps that English gentlemen wear pulled down over his long unkempt hair, making it difficult to see his face.
             It was Friday morning and Ross and I had headed down to McDonalds for a late breakfast. We were staying in the city for a couple of days and planned to visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship down by Darling Harbour this morning. We proceeded to unwrap our breakfast meal while our mystery table guest unwrapped his newspaper and began reading.
             I watched as he puffed away on his cigarette and turned the pages of the paper. His hands were very dirty, his nails long. He wore a gold ring on his third finger.
             “Hello,” I said, but there was no response. Maybe he didn’t hear me.
             I tried again, louder. “Good morning..”
             He lifted his head, slowly turned and caught my eye, nodded, and then went back to scanning his newspaper. 
            The umbrella. I persisted.
             “Do you think it will rain today?”
             He looked back at me with bleary grey eyes and said something which I couldn’t quite make out. He had a long beard with overgrown moustache which muffled his words. He turned the pages of his paper and pointed to the weather report. Rain was forecast, he said.
             And so a conversation of sorts began. We introduced ourselves, and he told us his name was Ron. He lived around the area, was born here in Sydney, at McMahon’s Point.
            “You know where that is?” Ron asked. No, sorry we didn’t.
            We respectfully asked if he would like to share our breakfast. He respectfully declined. At first.
             I felt incredibly sad for Ron. He looked as though he was probably our age, and I wondered what desperate circumstances had led to his living on the streets, of becoming another “homeless statistic”. Had he lost a wife? Children? He had certainly lost direction, hope, and any sense of self-worth. 
             Finally it was time for us to leave, time for us to visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship. We said goodbye to Ron and walked away from one place of friendship to find another down by the harbour. We spent a long time wandering through the stunning gardens which had been established many years ago as a gesture of friendship between two cultures. The freshness, the beauty, and the peace of this incredibly beautiful place stood in stark contrast to the life of the man with whom we had recently shared a meal.
             And all the while, I found myself mulling over a statement I had heard someone make just the week before, a statement I had been pondering over ever since:
                       “We all have two lives – the one we are living now, 
                                        and the unlived life within us.”
             It’s a statement about life purpose, about potential.
             Over the past week I had been wondering how close the gap between my two lives was. 
             It’s actually something I’ve wondered about many times throughout the years, always striving for greater clarity of my purpose, always challenged to close the gap between what is, and what can be.
              And now I was wondering how wide that gap was for Ron. It seems to me that gap has become a chasm so deep he probably does not think much beyond surviving today. I prayed  that he would begin to search for his purpose in life, and for the One who gave him life. I prayed that he would find the way back to believing in himself. I prayed that he would have the courage to step out into his unlived life.
              I know it’s not too late for Ron.
              I know it’s never too late – for any of us.


Thinking of you today,
Julie