Staff Corner – Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
Each year the National Basketball Association holds its Draft Combine. This annual event occurs before the NBA Draft, where teams select eligible players to enter the NBA. The NBA Draft Combine is an invitation-only event where select players are subjected to extraordinary scrutiny to determine if they will be successful at the highest level of basketball competition.
As you would expect, the players participate in tests that measure specific elements of successful basketball players. First, they are examined physically. Height, weight, wingspan, foot size, and the ratio of these measurements are taken. Next, athletic skills are observed. Vertical leap, maximum leap, vertical reach, sprint speed, shooting, dribbling, and passing are examined. Finally, teams are granted interviews with the players to assess their mental strength and game knowledge.
A player’s performance at the Draft Combine will often determine how early in the draft the player is selected. As a result, poor performance at the Combine can dramatically impact a player’s career. Likewise, a player who does well at the Combine can expect a positive boost to their career, especially when negotiating a salary.
Imagine if a coach was being interviewed regarding one particular star player. After the Combine, the coach says, “He’s just too tall. Not only that, I’ve never seen a guy jump so high – it’s like he’s jumping out of the gym. His shooting, too, is unbelievably good. Honestly, I don’t think I saw him miss a shot. At the end of the day, I didn’t see a single weakness in his game. The fact is, I can’t use a guy like that. He’s too good. If we selected him, winning would be too easy. So, we’re gonna pass on this player.”
What? He’s too good? Winning would be too easy? That doesn’t make any sense, and that coach would probably be fired pretty quickly.
But ignoring strength is precisely what God did to bring victory to His people through Gideon. God had told Gideon to conquer the invading Midianites. Gideon, while scared, was able to recruit an army of over 30,000 soldiers! Notice what God tells Gideon in Judges 7:2-3, “The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.”
God said Gideon’s army was too big, so it was reduced to 10,000 soldiers. Then, in Judges 7:4, God says, “The people are still too many.” And God then reduces Gideon’s army down to a mere 300 soldiers! From a military perspective, this doesn’t make any sense. But God’s purpose was more than a military victory. God’s primary goal was to make sure His people understood that God brings victory, and He can be trusted.
This theme runs all through the Bible: God’s strength is most profoundly experienced in our weakness. Here’s the problem with that: we don’t like being weak. In fact, by reading through the Bible, we discover this truth about our fallen human nature: if finding God means weakness, we will gladly do without God to try and live in our own strength. In our sin, our heart’s desire is to be self-sufficient. We don’t want to NEED God. In our pride, we sometimes actually think that, in reality, it is God who NEEDS us!
Jesus’ words to us in Matthew 11:28-30 are a good reminder, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” How does Jesus make our burden light? By doing all the work for us. He went to the cross for us. He was raised from the dead for us. His righteousness is granted to us when we trust Him. The burden we are given is simply to trust Him to do all the heavy lifting.
Jesus’ words are as refreshing as a cold spring of water discovered in the wilderness to the weak and the burdened.
However, to the proud and strong Jesus’ words are foolish sentiments cherished only by those who aren’t gifted.
May God grant us the grace to welcome weakness that we might find our rest in Christ alone.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Judges 6-7.
Praying with you,