So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
-Parable of the Loving Father
This is s fun, but often heartbreaking season for college basketball fans. My own team, the University of North Carolina, was ousted by Auburn. However, I could not have been happier about their sportsmanship. They lost with grace. They showed real concern for an injured Auburn player. And they congratulated their opponents on a big win. I watched this game with my seven year old, a die hard Carolina fan, and I was proud to point out the ways they played and behaved with character.
After the game, I saw this moment, that one photographer captured between Roy Williams, our head coach, and Kenny Williams (no relation), a senior finishing his last game for him. It reminded me of the important and parental role many coaches take on for their players. And it reminded me of the way God tells us he loves us and is proud of us when we do our very best, no matter the outcome.
I'm sure that when Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he felt he'd really lost and disappointed God. I'm sure the disciples who scattered during the trial and crucifixion felt lost, especially Peter. I'm sure blind Saul felt he'd lost it all. Most of us have had times we felt utterly lost or as we've let down our coach or the world. I believe scripture tells us that win, lose, our best, or even our best attempt to do our worst, God is there. Never farther than the sideline. Never sitting. Always pacing. Always ready to run to our side. And always there to kiss us on the forehead and say, "I love you. It's finished. Let's go home."