Finding the Joy

The playoffs begin for the over-30 basketball league Aug. 4 at the fitness center here. The championship game is scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at the fitness center gym here.Down by two, with one-tenth of a second remaining to go to the championship! (To keep you informed, you need at least three-tenths of a second to even tip the ball into the hoop). With one time-out left, I used it, and wondered what kind of play I could set up to get off an impossible shot. I thought to myself, “This is middle school basketball and we do have one older referee so there is a chance that he thinks a shot could be fired up with one-tenth of a second remaining.” So I set up a play, and decided that these middle school girls playing are more interested in the boys sitting in the stands. There is not chance they will run this play correctly. (I once coached a girls’ team in Hawaii and told a player to kick the ball out to the wing when you’re trapped. The next time she was trapped, she did exactly that – she punted the ball out over the wing’s head!)

So I learned to never take anything for granted when coaching. We had the ball underneath the opponent’s hoop. The girl inbounding the ball yelled back and smacked the ball. The girls immediately forgot the play I just instructed them to do, but, miraculously, one girl didn’t break and she was left wide open underneath the basket. She received the pass and made the shot with no time left on the clock. And the elderly ref counted the basket!

We were headed to overtime and feeling quite happy with the scenario. The entire team and fans were elated!! Overtime was only three minutes long, so any chance we could get the lead first would give us a great chance to win the game and go on to the championship game. We hit a three pointer immediately with two and half minutes to go. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. The opposing team answered with a three shot of their own, got a quick steal and then two more points, took another shot for two more with a foul and making the free throw.

Game. Set. Match. We lost. We ended up losing the third place game as well.

The word happiness brings all sorts of memories to my mind: winning a basketball game, opening presents on Christmas morning and receiving a Nintendo as a young boy, family vacations to Florida, Chicago, and Colorado, eating a pecan pie, being selected as first team all-state in water polo in high school, and staying up all night at sleepovers. Everyone wants to be happy. But does happiness last forever? What happens when the Nintendo becomes old and breaks down, or when the vacation is over, or when staying up all night turns into a crabby affair the next day? Happiness can get replaced with sadness as in a basketball game.

Then there’s joy. Running deeper and stronger, joy is defined as a quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives – that He will be there no matter what. Happiness depends on material objects and having things go our way, but joy in Christ can be in our lives no matter what. Happiness is temporary, but joy is lasting because it is based on God’s presence within us. As we discover God’s will for our lives, we find contentment. As we understand the future He has planned for us, we will express joy. Don’t base your life on material things for happiness, but on God for joyfulness. When life is going bad and you feel like complaining and crying out, Christ still reigns and we still know Him and have Him in our lives, so we can rejoice at all times. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God has given you this day to live and to serve Him – be glad and full of joy!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I’ll say it, Rejoice! Philippians 4:1


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