By Vernon A. Williams
A well-known coach called a timeout during the final seconds of a championship game. Pacing frantically in the huddle, he notices that the team’s worst free-throw shooter was still in the game. For obvious reasons, he should not have been.
So he looked at one player on the bench and called the name of another to replace that player on the floor. Teammates were stunned at the choice and suddenly the coach realized he had meant to call the name of a more athletic player.
Not to appear unsure in the eyes of the others, he stuck with the errant player whose name he called. Then he called another timeout and got the team back in the huddle. A new play was designed; one that wouldn’t have the replacement player touch the ball.
The coach told him emphatically that his only expectation was to set screens that block defensive players on the other team, enabling his stars to take the potential game-winning shot. The player whose name he called nodded in agreement.
The plan worked nearly to perfection. He set a screen freeing the team’s star for a shot from about 10 or 12 feet. The shot swirled around the rim but just wouldn’t go in. The next best player charged in to tip the ball in but his layup was shot too hard.
With the game clock ticking down, the ball veered straight toward the outstretched arms of the player whose name had been called unintentionally by the coach. Though seldom used, the player knew instinctively to guide the errant shot toward the rim.
The ball dropped though the net just as the buzzer sounded and players began jumping in uncontrolled jubilation. It was so close, the referees kept players from leaving the court as they marched to the sidelines to review the lightning fast action on a pair of replay monitors.
It took them two or three minutes but it seemed like hours to both teams still on the floor, on the sidelines and anxious fans in the stands. Finally, game officials removed monitor headsets, turned to people waiting with baited breath and signaled that the tipped-in, last second shot counted and the basket was good.
The story is replete with faith metaphors.
First, the coach called a name that he was not accustomed to calling. He followed whatever force led him. Secondly, he could have easily corrected his inexplicable decision but he went with it. The fact that the coach designed a play that would not involve the player evidences his lack of faith – but at least he would not retreat from the decision.
Just as the coach desired within his heart, the player he wanted most to shoot took the shot – just the way it was drawn up on the play chart. His mind raced to accolades he could anticipate at the post-game press conference. Just one thing, the player he chose to shoot missed the shot.
Then as the second proof of his genius, the player the coach designated to follow up the shot crashed the board as instructed. It would be a second opportunity to attest to his coaching acumen if that desperation layup dropped in (the way it does nine out of ten times). Not tonight the designated strike force came up empty.
Then, as though that errant layup had eyes, it fell straight to the outstretched hands of the player whose name the coach had called during the last timeout. It was the plan that the coach did not orchestrate, the outcome that he never even imagined, that brought him eventual victory.
Men and women of God across the country, around the world, are feeling a sense of exasperation in the throes of unprecedented circumstances prompted by immoral, uncaring, godless people in power.
The best chance of righting the nation’s ship, the best opportunity to win back civility, rested with the Mueller Report. A nation and world awaited the outcome with the same expectation of the coach confident to see the final shot in the hands of his star player. Just like that shooter, Mueller missed.
Then came proclamations by the Democratic-controlled Congress that they have more than enough to issue subpoenas and hold hearings that would get to the bottom of this long-running scandal. That was the second hope, like the coach’s next best player who crashed the boards after the missed jumper – only to miss a simple layup.
While desperation mounts and frustration flairs, many are failing to acknowledge the remaining steadfast presence of one whose name the coach called to enter the situation. And yet it was in that unseen possibility that victory was won.
No matter what your condition, state of mind, or challenges of the spirit – never forget that there is a name. Unlike this player whose heroics saved the day, the only one that we set above all others is the everlasting name of Jesus. Sometimes we need to be reminded that He won’t put more on us than we can bear.
We know that we know what we know. Simply put, Jesus can do anything but fail. So garner the faith and trust that empowers you to set aside anxiety and impatience. The devil is a liar. No matter what it looks like, sounds like, or feels like, be steadfast and receive God’s plan in God’s time.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].