In 1830 a man named George Wilson was convicted of robbing a mail carrier, the consequence-death by hanging! It seems a harsh punishment, but then consider that the punishment for any sin is eternal separation from God, yeah, just one sin- and we’ve all been there (Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 6:23 for the wages of sin is death…). Fortunately both George Wilson had and you have, friends in “high places”. In George’s case he was given a presidential pardon for his crime so he would not have to die. In our case, the pardon is given by virtue of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.
Amazingly, in Wilson’s case, he refused the presidential pardon and said he wanted to hang anyway! The first thing they had to figure out is if a person could actually refuse to be taken off of death row. The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court where Chief Justice George Marshall stated that the pardon was only a piece of paper if Wilson didn’t except the decision and since he didn’t, he must be hanged. Why would someone desire to hang anyway? Perhaps because he didn’t have enough to live for, maybe he felt he didn’t deserve to live for what he had done, maybe he was just trying to escape what his life had become- I don’t claim to have that answer. Equally surprising is the response some give to the saving grace available through Jesus. Just because Jesus died doesn’t mean you are taken care of, it only means that if you accept that Jesus paid the price for your sin, that you ask Him for forgiveness, and decide to follow after Him. Some folks will decide they don’t want to accept this and they will be eternally separated from God-and I’m sure they have their reasons, though I’ll never be convinced that they will enjoy that decision when it’s all said and done.
So how do we relate this to basketball? Well, I figure the last game that was played here at Warner didn’t go the way we had hoped. It was possible that the season was over, dead; and that there would be no more games that counted until next year. It would also have marked the last game coached by Coach (Bart) Valentine at the school. Something happened Wednesday afternoon though; the team was given new life with an opportunity to play again, at least one more game that counts, in Branson, Missouri! I will not say that this opportunity was not earned, because it was, but without someone else’s approval, this new life would not be possible. How does a team respond to such an opportunity? I am sure of the 32 teams still alive in the tournament, some will just be happy to play one more game, some will try to stay alive as long as possible, and some think that they will be the one team that doesn’t go down this year.
I hope that this team accepts this new life and lives it to the fullest, no matter how many games that ends up being. While there may be something to lose here, there is everything to gain by accepting the life that you have been given both on and off the court. Being a Christian isn’t just the best way to die; it’s the best way to live! Live Strong in Branson and Go Knights!!!