In my Bible classes, we keep coming across confrontations Jesus had with religious leaders over the Sabbath, specifically whether doing good on the day of rest was sinful. When does one principle or guideline supersede another? The following is from February 20, 2006 and shows what mercy combined with logic can do.
I coached high school basketball in Tennessee for thirteen years so I try to keep up with the preps in the Volunteer State. My source of information is the The Tennessean, published in Nashville. There was a tremendous story in Saturday's Sports section on their website. The subject was a young lady from Perry County, one of the great basketball counties in the state. Kari May is fifteen and a freshman at Perry County High School. She loves basketball and her team. There is an obstacle- she suffers from osteosarcoma, bone cancer which has spread from her leg to her lungs. Kari's mother died two years ago from a brain aneurysm. Her father, Joe, also is a cancer patient and like his daughter, is undergoing chemotherapy. Kari has not competed this year, being unable to pass the state mandated physical. Due to a special waiver from the state association, Kari was permitted to play in her first high school game last Friday versus Mt. Pleasant. As agreed to by both schools, Mt. Pleasant was allowed to get the opening tip and score. Coming back on offense, Perry County gave the ball to Kari who took a shot from six feet out. The ball went in, Kari came out, and the crowd stood up. Tears flowed in the stands for the young lady who played in her initial high school game and hopefully, not her last.
In my basketball career in Tennessee, I had a number of opportunities to deal with the TSSAA, the governing body of school extracurriculars for the state. Oversight boards in most states are unpopular;Tennessee's was no exception. There were times when the logic of their decisions concerning eligibility escaped me but I was dealing with limited information. The long-time executive of the TSSAA, Ronnie Carter, is a gentleman and an elder in his congregation. I met him once and was impressed with his genuineness. However, he was often vilified for the rulings his group handed down. The top guy will always be the lightning rod for criticism and Mr. Carter fell into that category. In comments concerning Kari's case, his justification was that it was a special situation and a special young lady. He did the right thing. This is not one of the myriad of cases when a school or athlete tries to gain an advantage by twisting rules for their own benefit. Solomon would have been proud of the ruling. I believe the TSSAA should be proud of itself.
Rules are important- you can't play basketball without them. My team wears hand-me-down uniforms from the high school squad I coached here at Westbury Christian. The uniforms are nice but made for high school girls. When purchased, we had four girls 6'0" or taller. I have a number of girls standing 5'0" among my 7th-8th grade players. The uniforms have been altered but are still VERY LARGE on my Lady Wildcats. Inexperienced referees have spent have the whole game trying to make sure we have our jerseys tucked in as rules state. We try but it's difficult when you wear over sized jerseys and shorts. Experienced officials take it with a grain of salt and while not looking the other way, understand it isn't interfering with the flow of the game. Jesus constantly had battles over rules. His opponents were Pharisees who objected to his observation of the Sabbath, especially when it came to healing. After one run in with religious leaders, Jesus declared that ''the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'' He went on, proclaiming HE was the Lord of the Sabbath. What the teachers of the day failed to realize was that MERCY is more important to God than sacrifice. (Hosea 6:6) How could you quarrel with doing a miracle on the Sabbath that relieved suffering for someone of your own faith? We aren't the Lord and it isn't up to us to decide what parts of scripture we will and will not follow. However, there are times in our jobs and with our families when we can make an exception or bend a rule when the intent is mercy and the outcome does others no harm. The TSSAA, bless their hearts, got it right. Both teams were blessed, the fans were blessed, and a girl who just wants to play basketball was blessed. Kari's dad, Joe, was in the bleachers that night. I bet he had a huge lump in his throat and tears streaming down his cheeks. How do you think he feels about the TSSAA right now, after they were merciful to the little girl he loves with all his heart? And how do you think God, OUR FATHER, feels when we do the same?
Applicable quote of the day:
"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."
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