I am about to make an argument for the comparable nature of love and Kentucky basketball. Forgive this endeavor.
No seriously, from the get go, forgive me for attempting to draw a no doubt flawed comparison between something that is infinitely powerful, unquestionably divine in nature, and often times incomprehensible, let alone explainable, (um Kentucky fans, I am referring to love) and a sport that involves putting a ball in a net. Believe me, I say that with profound respect, but in comparison, it is trivial and temporal.
However, over the course of the past few weeks, this Kentucky girl living in Dallas, has rekindled her love for college basketball, a past time often lost in the midst of the Cowboys, the Rangers and the Mavs. The undying devotion to March Madness, tournament brackets, and college basketball dynasties becomes a little more distant each time I utter the words “Texas Forever.” But as I’ve journeyed with these beloved Cats through this tournament, something in me has come alive. And yesterday, as I sat with a grin explainable only by two tickets to the championship game tonight, I had a crazy thought. Now crazy thoughts are nothing short of normal for me, but 9 times out of 10, logic, common sense, and sanity dismiss them before they are rationalized let alone spoken. But this thought, it’s sticking. So go ahead and laugh, but then promise to hear me out because I am convinced that we can learn a lot about love from Kentucky basketball. In fact, I think it is teaching and shaping the way that I love today. Here is why.
1) It brings us together.
After each win for the Cats, getting on Facebook and Twitter is like going home. My feed is absolutely flooded with #bbn and #WeAreUK hashtags, countless “GO CATS!” and “GO BIG BLUE!” exclamations. I love it. The aftermath of their win against Wisconsin was no different so before I knew it, I found myself watching a video compiled by Kentucky Sports radio, documenting the reactions in multiple venues as Aaron Harrison made the 3-pointer that would win them their ticket to the championship game. I mean, complete and utter mayhem. Ridiculous and uncharacteristic excitement an outsider would easily deem absolutely looney. I couldn’t stop smiling. People uniting in the midst of a hope realized, a realization producing unashamed joy. All because the ball went in. So dumb.
But that is totally love. It’s dumb and it brings us together. We all have it to give and we all want it to be given to us. We were created for it. If we are living and breathing today, love is our commonality. And when our hope for it is realized, namely and fully in Christ, we are overwhelmed with joy.
2) It comes through in the clutch.
Okay so my blood pressure is all but fond of this Kentucky tendency to play with such risk, to literally put it all on the line in the final seconds. But look what’s happened. These guys have come through, every time. Despite some regular season doubts, on their part just as much as ours, when it has really mattered, they’re there. Right on time and not a moment too soon. Resulting in W after W.
And love is going to win y’all. When this comparison struck me today, I found myself praying for a Kentucky win tonight to solidify this analogy. Whatever, I’m not ashamed. But God’s love for us doesn’t end, it doesn’t quit and it doesn’t give up. It’s always there, even when we don’t see it or recognize it until that final buzzer is sounding. But it will win out. Over our fear, our doubt, our weakness, our guilt and our shame.
3) It’s not afraid to miss.
I watched an interview with Aaron Harrison after that final shot. That final, gut-wrenching, game winning shot. I love what he said, “As long as you’re not afraid to miss, I think you have a good chance of making it.” Y’all. Thousands upon thousands watching, game and a chance at the championship game on the line, and he wasn’t afraid to miss, he wasn’t afraid to take the shot. In fact, he wanted to be the one to take the shot. Anyone else thinking they would be absolutely crippled by the fear of failing? Me too. But we will always miss out on the wins if we never take the shot. I have to believe that he feels more alive in those moments than any others. Experiencing the gamete of human emotion all in a split second. All the sweat and tears of a season, all his hopes and dreams as a player, on the line. He took on all the fear and doubt and insecurity, and chose to hope for the net instead, unafraid of a potential no. And it was worth the risk.
How often are we afraid to love because we are afraid of getting hurt? Or afraid it will not be reciprocated? Or because we are afraid it might lead to this or that outcome? I believe we will never fully experience love until we take the risk. God took the shot for us, so let’s take it daily as we attempt to love others well. Unafraid of missing, because our hope is in Christ. We love because He first loved us.
4) It is spurred on by others.
He’s set up for the shot, eye on the prize. Yet, if there was any doubt still lingering, anything holding him back, there was his brother, setting him up and then cheering him on, encouraging him to take the shot. #twinning
I need that, and I want to be that for others. Man sometimes loving is hard, and exhausting, and scary, and just plain work. I need people next to me, cheering me on. What a comparison to draw and live out in the church. Jesus told Peter to walk on water. Andrew told Aaron to take the shot. Let’s do that for one another, for the sake of our faith, that it might grow and be strengthened, and that we might fully experience God’s love and embark on the crazy risky adventure of loving others.
So I know it might be a stretch for some. Take or leave the source of my conclusions, but may you find truth in the encouragement to love well today. Receive the never ending, clutch winning love of Christ that we were created for, may it fuel you toward risk and adventure as you lavishly love others, and may you encourage those around you to do the same!