A modern-day parable…
There was once an old guy named Marvin (the hero in this parable), who in his late 60’s, was terribly out of shape. Determined to recapture his youth, he followed his heart to the YMCA. Wearing faded sweatpants, a wrinkled tee shirt, and the only athletic footwear he currently owned (grass stained Adidas), he mustered his courage and pushed against the crash bar that led into the gymnasium. He was pleasantly surprised to discover a group of similarly aged gentlemen who appeared to be in the process of organizing a pickup basketball game. At first, he wondered if he’d stumbled into a TV commercial shoot for AARP or, judging by the number of body supports being worn (ankle wraps and faded sweat bands), perhaps a clinical trial for a knee-brace manufacturer.
After casual introductions, he was invited to join them and fell into line with the other choose-ees. Surprisingly, he was elected as one of two captains; one of the choose-ers. But, it soon became apparent, they had a numbers problem—there were only nine. And since the other captain had first pick, Marvin’s team would be one man short.
Their friendly banter quieted as collectively all nine players scanned the cavernous gymnasium. “Nope, it’s just us”, it was agreed. The opposing captain, younger and impressively fit, smiled across at Marvin while spinning the ball on his index finger for an impressive period of time and then, without breaking eye-contact with our hero, began dribbling the ball back and forth between his legs—a clear show of bravado and a not-so-subtle display of intimidation. And it worked. Marvin glanced back at his motley crew and felt the sweat of impending humiliation trickle down his back. The arrows of his intimidator had found their mark.
Beyond the entry doors, the faint sound of footsteps echoed in the hall, “Wait, I hear someone coming! Hopefully he’s a b-baller!” Marvin shouted, only to be embarrassed that his nervousness was so apparent.
All nine men, like birds on a wire, snapped their attention to the dented and poorly-painted metal entry doors. The locking mechanism clicked and the door began to slowly open. Marvin, and his three choices, leaned toward the door. Time seemed to suspend briefly as all nine waited for what they hoped would be the one man needed to complete Marvin’s ragamuffin team.
The other team captain, ever the competitor, taunted, “You better hope your mystery man is more than a warm body, ‘cause I’m pretty sure you guys are going down!”
The door swung open and nine men gasped as the newcomer ducked to clear the door’s opening. He wore dark blue warm ups with one word, “Cavs”, discreetly embroidered over his heart and a knit sock cap drawn over his ears. He stood upright, glanced our way, surveyed the otherwise empty gymnasium and politely asked, “Any chance I can shoot some hoops with you guys?”
Nine retirees gawked in disbelief until someone whispered, “I’m pretty sure that’s LeBron James…”
“I pick him!” Marvin belts out triumphantly as the stupefied admirers wander toward NBA’s superman.
“Sure, I’ll play with you guys!” He smiles.
Feeling totally redeemed, Marvin looked toward the other cocky team captain and quipped, “What do you think of my chances now Mister ‘dribbles-between-your-legs-man’?”
The Apostle Paul makes a statement in Romans that, at first blush, may not seem very important. He writes “If God is for us, who can stand against us?”
Often, Jesus would have to explain the parables to his disciples. They had trouble connecting the dots. But I’m confident you’ll get the point of my parable. When God is for you…on your side, no one or nothing can overcome you. Paul fills in around his first statement with more incredibly fortifying words:
If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 35, 37)
I don’t want to sound maudlin or patronizing so I’ll just say it out loud. I pray for you dear readers, each week, as I prepare this column. I pray my ramblings will not only entertain you but encourage and strengthen you in your faith. Be blessed, RG
Read Ron’s column, Simple Faith, each Saturday on the Faith Page (page 3) of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, or visit www.lancastereaglegazette.com.