I sat mesmerized last night while I watched the Dallas Mavericks take down the Miami Heat in Game 6. Aside from the fact that Lebron James confidently claimed not not one, not two, but 8 future championships, I actually thought fielding (or maybe “courting” is a better word) a team comprising arguably the best (if not better when it comes to Chris Bosh) players in the NBA would serve as a recipe for success. And they achieved some success in some sense: getting to the Finals. However they, but primarily James, fell short of getting that elusive championship ring upon which athletes center their effort, as well as their hopes and dreams.
And on the other side of the court sat someone else-though Mav’s owner Mark Cuban hardly sits still during games-vying for that elusive ring as well. In addition, Dirk Nowitzki, spent his whole career trying to win a championship. And each will finally will get his ring.
I wonder what it’s like for both parties today, the morning after.
For the losers: Sometimes in God’s grace he will not allow you to get something which has become an idol. Sometimes the Lord actually withholds things which seem so good to us (whether it be an NBA championship ring or wedding ring) because to give us something which seems good-but it has become an idol, the reason we live or die-may not be loving. Sometimes he wants to spare us from the inevitable result of making something or someone else an idol: divorce, depression, anger, disappointment, emptiness, etc….He doesn’t withhold anything good from those who walk with Him (Psalm 84:11). While I often fail to believe this, God nevertheless proves this to me over and over.
For the winners: On the other hand, sometimes God may actually grant us the idol out of love. This sounds strange, but it can also be an act of love for the Lord to give us the desire of our hearts even when that desire is not healthy. For instance, if my main reason for living has become an NBA ring, wedding ring, or ring like Gollum’s, then God may in His goodness grant that. Yet I will then soon be sorely disappointed that the ring didn’t fill the God-shaped hole in my heart. I will eventually turn back to him for the first or the hundredth time.
How many of us have thought if I could just be married (I did), if I could just have a kid (I did), if I could just get a job (I did) that it would be well with our souls? Then we got those things, and those things left us empty, only to pursue something, although ideally Someone else. In love, I think God may sometimes grant us those things, in order for us to see the true emptiness in those things, and run to Him instead.
Unfortunately many of the things/people we’ve sought and found have become to us empty wells. But instead of turning to Jesus, we turn to someone/something else. That’s often why folks want to divorce: the other person, as advertised in scripture, has become an empty well no longer producing the respect, love, importance, power which we demanded. But in God’s grace we’ve received that idol, so that we can see the emptiness, and return to the spring of living water.
I do hope that Lebron either never gets that ring, or that he does (although not 8 times over!), and he realizes how the hole in his heart is not ring-shaped but God-shaped.