This past week most of America has been watching “March Madness,” the final basketball tournament for large universities and upstart Florida Gulf Coast University has stolen the spotlight. Only in their second year of eligibility to make the tournament, they have upset two better known teams to make the final 16 (out of 64) after being ranked as one of the worst 8 teams in the tourney.
The most striking feature of their play though is ….. THEY ARE HAVING FUN! They are [passing (what? a pass in basketball?) dunking, laughing, dancing, and enjoying every moment along the way. And making fans, including me. It’s reminded me of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird playing for the title when team play, passing, and loving the game of basketball drove their will to win.
Who has fun anymore? Anywhere? Think about it: Do people seem to enjoy their family? Does anyone like their job anymore? Does all of the stuff we have, the many movies and games we own, and our ability to eat out 4-5 times a week bring us joy? Who’s joyful these days? Do you know a Christian who is so close to Jesus that he/she just exudes joy? Nehemiah reminded the children of Israel that the joy of the Lord is their strength (Neh. 8:10). The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving” (Ps. 28:7).
Despite having more leisure time than ever, we’re stressed … and life is heavy. Few seem joyful or content. Most seem heavy, angry, or down. The Western world and of all its affluence seems anything but happy. Celebration is difficult for many, the language of celebrating unknown, and most “celebrations” are escapes from the problems of life versus a happiness for living life and being alive to work, create, and enjoy others.
You can see it in our sports. Watch college basketball and you’ll see teams having anything but fun. Coaches over-coach, players are just trying to get their shot versus playing a team game, and at the end of a good play their reactions aren’t joyful but rather seem angry at the other team, an in-your-face anger. Florida Gulf Coast has reminded America again that sports are meant to be fun . Visit your local little league field where 12 year old’s get screamed at by coaches and parents, or football dads belittle their 10 year-old’s after a pee wee league football game….. that’s supposed to be FUN!
It’s why Bob Goff and his joy-full book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World has captivated so many. Bob reminds us that life was meant to be LIVED… not something we fight against or something we can control. And out of that joy, that LIVING, we can love and make a difference in others’ lives versus seeing life as a competition against them.
So this week, the week before Easter (should be a day of celebration for Christians), I am on a joy-full quest to discover why I feel heavy and weighted down at times and joy seems elusive.
Who’s having fun? Who’s living life to the full? (John 10:10)