The Stuff of Champions

Who's it going to be sports fans? What Sweet Sixteen team has the stuff that champions are made of? Which team is going to advance to and then win the Men's Basketball NCAA Final Four?

In my mind I still replay internal video clips of great Final Four moments: Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson; the hot-shooting Villanova Wildcats of 1985; Chris Webber's timeout; Kentucky's Jack Givens; Larry Johnson and the Runnin' Rebels; Keith Smart's bank-shot; Rumeal Robinson's clutch free throws; and many other Championship memories.

But my favorite memory is the thrilling drama of North Carolina State's upset of Houston in the 1983 NCAA championship game. Houston's highflying team was called Phi Slamma Jamma and included future NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Nobody gave Jimmy Valvano's Wolfpack a chance to win. After all, Houston was the number 1 ranked team in the nation cruising with a 26 game winning streak. But North Carolina State accomplished the unbelievable.

To complete NC State's Cinderella story in their 54-52 championship win, Dereck Whittenburg launched the possible game winner from beyond the top of the key. The shot that could win the game was going to fall way short when Lorenzo Charles instinctively jumped to grab the ball and slam it home to beat the buzzer and the Cougars. Charles had turned an ugly airball into a miraculous alley-oop.

Do you ever feel like Dereck Whittenburg? The game is on the line, you want the ball in your hands, but your best shot turns into an airball. The good news is that time after time God takes our efforts and turns them into the stuff that champions are made of. Slam Dunk!

Jesus takes what little we have to offer him and turns it into victory. Defeat and failure were at hand one day when Jesus and his team had a standing room only crowd of 5000 plus to feed. No concession stands to handle this rowdy crowd. So Jesus asks, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" (John 6:5) Is he kidding? There is no possible way. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough smarts. Jesus' teammates believe the situation is hopeless. Their resources are extremely limited. But one man, Andrew, informs Jesus that a young boy has brought forward five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Andrew has faith that in the hands of Jesus a meager offering can go a long way. The food was multiplied, the crowd was fed, and there were even twelve baskets stuffed with leftovers! (John 6:13)

In the story, the Bible says that Jesus "already had in mind what he was going to do" (John 6:6) before Andrew came forward. That means Jesus was looking for someone who had great faith rather than great resources. The stuff champions are made of begins with faith. Faith to know that what we offer God may not be much, but God's going to get the victory and turn our airballs into slam dunks, and our defeats into stunning upsets. God calls you to give to Him what you have. You may not be the smartest, the strongest, or feel like you have the time or money to do much of anything for God. But God will use what you have to accomplish great victories if you have faith in Him. So don't be afraid to take your best shot. Faith in Jesus is the stuff champions are made of. God is always ready to stuff one more basket.

Christ My Coach -

Steve Teel

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