We are 4/5ths done with our first week of basketball camp. This morning, I was reminded why I prefer coaching girls. I brought all the campers, who in the AM session range from ages five to nine, to my classroom. There, I had them spend five minutes making cards for our WCS Chaplain, Robert Farrar, who fell this weekend and is facing knee surgery. The little girls handled it flawlessly. The young men....well, that's another story for another day. Even though I would rather coach girls, that does not mean I own any comprehension of their thought processes! This is from January 30, 2007.
It was in the 1990's. I sat with my Friendship Christian School basketball team in the stands at Middle Tennessee State University waiting to play. We were at summer team camp, a marathon of twenty games in six days. Competing against schools from around the state, we could see what we needed to work on while allowing a new combination of kids the chance to mesh, living together in a dorm. As was usually the case when we waited, the Lady Commanders talked and I was, if not exactly listening, absorbing the essence. I was intrigued by something I heard. (A disclaimer: I'm changing the names of my players due to their current, and, I predict, permanent marital status.) Karen had asked Kathy, a girl from church, to spend the night at her house when we returned home. This made no sense; I knew Karen wasn't particularly close to Kathy. When Karen was out of earshot, I asked the girls about it. They explained it wasn't about Kathy, it was about her brother, Sam, who Karen had a crush on. I wondered what that had to do with Karen asking Kathy to spend the weekend. With the exasperated looks and vocal tones only teenage girls can muster, it was spelled out as if I were the most ignorant man alive: Karen invited Kathy hoping she would return the favor, thus facilitating Karen being in the presence of the heartthrob, Sam. Oh. To a logical male, it would have made much more sense for Karen to simply express to Sam that she was interested. Apparently, that was not complicated enough. To me, the game was basketball. To them, the game was love. Basketball was much more fathomable to me. Love was much more exciting to them.
My eighth graders today quizzed over Luke 14. In this passage, Jesus witnessed competition for prominent seats at a dinner party. The Savior gave directives to the host about future guests. These should not be on the RSVP list: relatives, friends, rich neighbors. Instead, the seats should be filled with the following; the poor, the lame, the crippled, the blind. In explaining, Jesus pointed out those we feel comfortable with might pay us back with reciprocal invitations but the underprivileged cannot. (When I asked my classes how many poor people they know, the hesitation in raising hands answered the question. Our school's ethnic/racial diversity doesn't mask that we fit into a homogeneous group; middle class.) The students readily admitted they've invited kids to their birthday parties hoping for a return engagement...and were angry when not forthcoming. That's what Karen did. It wasn't that she didn't like Kathy. It's just that Kathy's friendship was not what she was after. It worked out. Karen is very happily married more than a decade later to, well, let's call him Kevin. Weeding out ulterior motives in our lives, whether in social settings, the workplace, or even benevolent evangelism, is never simple. Jesus went where invited and probably sat where directed. He indicated he lacked permanent living quarters, eliminating the pressure of party planning and dinner decorum. Too bad; we could have learned so much if he had just left a guest list behind for us to peruse. I take that back- he did!
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
That Jesus; he just never lets us off the hook!
Applicable quote of the day:
"The rich swell up with pride, the poor from hunger."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org