“You can write the obituary. I’m not.”

I’m an avid basketball fan. Ever since college, my friends and I have competed in fantasy basketball, and if you’ve ever played it, you know how time-consuming it can become. For the most part, I have to admit that for all the time I invest into this hobby of mine (I’m not even sure you can call it that), there is little to no real significance. But every once in a while, I come across a quote or a line that cuts across the narrow sports spectrum and connects to my life of faith.

The story of the post-Rondo Celtics is a picture of the powerful effects of belief. When Rajon Rondo’s season ended with an ACL injury, talk about the Celtics’ potential fall from prominence weren’t just whispered but outrightly proclaimed as fact. Without their point guard, how could an aging roster compete and win? The pundits quickly pointed out that a 36 year old Kevin Garnett, a 35 year old Paul Pierce and a 35 year old Jason Terry couldn’t stand up to the likes of Miami or OKC. There seemed to be doubt even among the Celtics. Trade speculations ensued, and everyone wrote off the Celtics. Everyone – except for Doc Rivers.

“You can write the obituary. I’m not.” Rivers, known as the ultimate players’ coach, has always demonstrated a supreme faith in his roster to show up and play to their highest potential. Even in the face of conventional logic, troublesome injuries and the impossible opponent of time, Rivers continues to churn out the same messages of enduring belief into the ears of his men – “We can make it. Someone will step up. We will endure. We will succeed.” Thus far, the results after Rondo’s injury have been 7 straight wins, including one over the Miami Heat. In every possible way, Doc has demonstrated extreme confidence in his players, and the Celtics, in turn, have risen to match the belief of their coach.

Tonight’s loss to the lowly Bobcats may result in yet another test as the team awaits news on a potentially serious injury. But whatever the outcome, I expect the Celtics to dig even deeper as Rivers drive them forward in confidence.

If we move away from the Celtics’ world for a moment and hold onto Doc’s words, we will discover that we too can encourage each other for the sake of Christ. Every day presents us with fresh opportunities to see in others what God sees in them. We are called to build each other up in grace and to believe that God is not yet finished with any one of us, even when the stuff of life happens and trust in God’s transforming work becomes illogical. This is the privilege and blessing of being in community as we become more like Christ!

Os Guinness writes, “For those who live life as a journey and see faith as a journey, calling has an obvious implication. It reminds us that we are all at different stages on the way and none of us alive has yet arrived. Trouble comes when we forget this fact and pretend that life is static and settled, as if everything were a matter of sharp lines, clear boundaries, precise labels, and final assessments. So that some are in, some out; some have arrived, others not.” (The Call)

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

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