One And Twenty-Two

WORDS FROM W.W. February 24, 2011

Last week the Girls’ Varsity basketball team that I’m assistant coach for finished their season.
“One and Twenty-Two!”
For some reason when I spell it out it doesn’t look as bad as “1-22!”
When you only have one returning varsity player who averaged more than 10 minutes a game last year (Notice I said 10 minutes, not 10 points!) you have the necessary elements of a recipe for…for…corn mush. I can’t think of anything more void of sweetness and lip-smacking potential.
People shake their heads in pity. Opposing coaches would be thinking ahead to the next game while still in the first quarter of their game against us. Officials would give us certain calls out of sympathy.
The only thing worse than 1-22 is 0-23.
What we learned, however, is that people have the opportunity to learn and grow more in the midst of adversity than in the sweet smelling trail of success. In fact, the Bible seems to have a lot of “One and Twenty-Two characters” in it. Think of Jonah. He was walking away from his potential. He was moonwalking double-time away from his calling and opportunity to make an impact. Think of Joseph. How bad does it have to get for your brothers to despise you so much they toss you into a pit? And then shortly after being sold to slave traders, ending up in prison. Joseph was “1-22” before he reached “his breakout season.”
I wouldn’t say Peter was “1-22”, but he was the type of guy who come win five in a row, and then quickly start a long losing streak. You never quite knew what kind of night Peter would have!
Our team hung together even in the midst of some lop-sided games. The players learned to support one another, to appreciate the fact that no one was jumping out of the boat in mid-stream. Two of the girls had been on the softball team that had won the league title and advanced to the state tournament. They went from that setting to being a part of a basketball team that one lost more games in one week than they did the whole season in softball. It was humbling, and yet it taught them that life is made up of some tough periods that require perseverance. It requires having some others to help you walk through the dry places.
Sometimes we appreciate people only for what they can do, not who they are. Sometimes we minimize their importance or value because they can’t do certain things.
Although I don’t wish 1-22 seasons on anyone, it has the ability to take life to a deeper level that is not based on who is most gifted.
Churches go through 1-22 seasons as well. They are times in which we re-evaluate who we are and what is important. We come through them with new understandings and renewed vision. Some things that we thought were vitally important we discover were just the trimmings.
“One and Twenty-Two!” Since I’m a writer I prefer to spell it out.

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