As March Madness continues, Baylor played last night for a chance to continue in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bears had already gone further than most expected. Though they lost to Wisconsin, they have already achieved what matters most, in athletics and in life.
FOX Sports Southwest headlined the story: “Baylor’s ‘extraordinary’ season has left lives changed.” It begins with the Bears’ loss to Kansas last February 4, their seventh defeat in eight games. Head coach Scott Drew stopped one of the team chaplains after the game and said, “We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach, but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss.”
Later that month, Kenny Chery, Baylor’s starting point guard, sat down in a hotel to talk to shooting guard Brady Heslip and assistant coach Tim Maloney. The two helped him give his life to Jesus. “I felt like I was a new person,” Chery said afterwards. “I felt like everything I’ve done bad in the past is gone. I’m starting new. I’ve accepted God into my life. The next morning I woke up, thanked God for waking me up, and I just had a whole new outlook.”
Taurean Prince plays forward on the team. On February 14, he told a chaplain he was miserable and didn’t want to live according to his plan anymore. The two prayed together, then Prince looked up with tears in his eyes. The chaplain explained that baptism would be a great way to make his faith public, and Prince readily agreed.
On February 25, Taurean Prince and Kenny Chery were baptized together at Highland Baptist Church in Waco. Three other players who wanted to reaffirm their commitment to Jesus chose to be baptized with them. Now, no matter what happens in this weekend’s games, Coach Drew calls this the most successful season in Baylor history. “Winning the game of life is a lot more rewarding than a 40-minute basketball game that’s so temporary,” he says. “To have an opportunity to help be a part of an impact on a young person’s life is the best feeling.”
God wants to use each of us in eternal ways, but we must make two decisions first. One: measure success as he does. Our culture values what is material, immediate, and self-promoting. The Kingdom values what is spiritual, eternal, and God-glorifying. If you help a single soul take a single step closer to Jesus today, your day will accomplish more in Kingdom terms than all the money and acclaim you earn. Do you agree?
Two: be available whenever the Spirit wants to use you. The coaches who helped Kenny Chery and Taurean Prince trust in Christ hadn’t planned those conversations into their schedules, but they submitted to God when he called. Henry Blackaby is right: When you made Jesus your Lord, you gave him permission to change your plans.
How available to the Spirit are you right now?