Tuesday, January 10, 2012

About winning and losing - 1 Corinthians 9:24 with a reflection on the BCS National Championship game and a story from the life of Jim Valvano

SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 9:24 (TM)
You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.

STORY as told by Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated, quoted in Reader's Digest:

Suffering from terminal spinal cancer at the age or 47, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano spoke with a reporter earlier this year. He looked back on his life and told a story about himself as a 23-year-old coach of a small college team. "Why is winning so important to you?" the players asked Valvano.

"Because the final score defines you," he said, "You lose, ergo, you're a loser. You win, ergo, you're a winner."

"No," the players insisted. "Participation is what matters. Trying your best, regardless of whether you win or lose -- that's what defines you."

It took 24 more years of living. It took the coach bolting up from the mattress three or four times a night with his T-shirt soaked with sweat and his teeth rattling from the fever chill of chemotherapy and the terror of seeing himself die repeatedly in his dreams. It took all that for him to say it: "Those kids were right. It's effort, not result. It's trying. God, what a great human being I could have been if I'd had this awareness back then."

Last nights BCS football game between Alabama and LSU declared the National Champions. For the winning team, Alabama, there was a lot of celebration and joy, for the losing team, LSU, not so much. I congratulate the winners and feel for the losers, even though I had predicted that Alabama would win earlier in the day.

In one aspect it was a boring game because I do not get any joy out of watching a field goal driven game, but it was saved at the end with the one touchdown. In another aspect it was a great game in that we were witnessing a tremendous defensive effort from the Alabama squad.

Winning or losing they all tried. And has Jimmy V discovered in the story above it is participating that really counts matters and giving it your best. As Paul shares in 1 Corinthians it is not winning or losing, but running to win, i.e. giving it your best effort. As long as we are doing our best, putting forth our best effort then we are fulfilling our calling from God.

Actually, I congratulate both teams for reaching that level of recognition and accomplishment … Just wait until next year – Go Gators!

Lord, help each of us to give it our best in anything and everything that we attempt in this life. Amen

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