In general, I firmly believe, athletic competition can provide numerous metaphors and lessons for "real" life. A coupld of years ago I was watching my Michigan Wolverines do battle with the last place team in the Big Ten, Penn State, a game played in State College, PA. Michigan, at the time ranked number four in the nation and battling for at least a share of the league title, needed this win, especially since their opponent was win-less in conference play. Michigan held a 15 point lead with less than ten minutes left on the clock; a victory seemed secure. But then something almost inexplicable happened. Penn State tightened up on defense and started hitting from the outside; their point guard had three treys in a row, a senior night crowd added to the momentum, and suddenly the Nittany Lions had taken the lead, a lead that they never relinquished. Unfortunately for Penn State, their season ended rather ingloriously in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Yet, in watching the crowd storm the court after their upset of Michigan, I couldn't help but think that all of these young men, who refused to give up against all odds, will always be true winners. In fact, I doubt that there was a college team in the country who could have defeated them the final minutes of that particular game. The "heart" that they demonstrated all season long--in this win but also in their numerous close defeats--is what will carry these young men throughout life.
How does one define "heart?" Joseph Conrad examines the fallen and corrupted human heart, even exhibited in those who come from highly "civilized" cultures. We know that the Bible speaks truth when it says that our hearts are fallen, "deceitful and desperately wicked." But what of the heart that has become bored and indifferent? What about those of us (especially Christians) who live with little or no whimsy or wonder? As seniors with only a little more than three months until commencement this, frankly, concerns me. I see in so many high school and college people a total lack of engagement in life. Call it "senioritis," but the reality is that for too many this attitude has become a pattern, a way of life that becomes basically "numb" to the events and the people we encounter moment by moment. It truly takes a heart of passion to fully engage in the present. Iraneaus once remarked that "The glory of God is a man (or woman) fully alive." Do you have the "heart" to be fully engaged? Or have we conceded the game before the final buzzer? And how will this attitude influence my overall life? For rest assured, patterns of thinking and living are daily being established.
I would like for each of you to watch the video below and then reflect on how you will choose to live out the last months of your senior year. What difference will you make in your homes, at school, in your youth group, and in your friendships?