Spring means a few things. One, it means I have to buy a lawn mower. We moved into our first home recently, and knew the day was coming when our lawn would need to be tended; that time has arrived. It also means longer days, more sunshine, and the chance to once again show off my bird legs, in their palest form, to the waiting world. You are welcome, world.
But perhaps more than any of that, Spring means the frenetic finish to the college basketball season. This weekend featured the conference tournaments, and was the appetizer for the big tournament that kicks off this week. And, true to form, there were wild finishes, heartbreaks, and jubilation . . . sometimes simultaneously.
One of the most memorable finishes, at least for one man, came in the Sun Belt Championship, in which Georgia State outlasted Georgia Southern, 38-36. Somehow, the teams combined for just 74 points, but that wasn’t the biggest storyline. No, it was what happened after the final buzzer that etched the lasting image.
Ecstatic for his team’s victory, Head Coach Ron Hunter ran onto the floor to celebrate the victory, looking for team leading scorer, and his son, RJ. “I wanted to go celebrate with my son,” he said. With his heart aflutter and March Madness waiting, Hunter responded the way we’ve all responded to overwhelming good fortune at some point in our lives: he exuberantly jumped into the air. But when he came down, his joy had been momentarily side-stepped by another strong feeling—pain. He had torn his Achilles tendon.
They rushed him to a chair and the team doctor assessed the damage while confetti showered him and the team. Amid the celebration, tears of happiness and of agony filled his eyes and he breathed deeply, taking it all in.
As I watched highlights (and lowlights) of this scene last night, what I saw was the exact state of the world. Jesus came to bring hope and joy and peace—a great celebration of this new vibrant Kingdom. But then Jesus, after inaugurating this new paradigm, left the world, promising to someday return and make things new once for all. So while things were new in Him, this fully-realized newness was still to come. In other words, we have all the spiritual provisions yet remain in a broken world. We have joy now, but a full joy is yet to come. We have hope because we still live in a realm that still requires some measure of it. We are amid a celebration, yet there are still ruptured Achilles all about us. Our tears are happiness; our tears are agony.
Confetti continues to fall from Heaven, for the battle is won. But we are still crutching about in hopeful anticipation of a day when the confetti is replaced by the full reality of a Heavenly existence.
So in moments of pain, have hope. It truly is finished, and no amount of discomfort can take the championship away. When the why’s of the world don’t add up, remember what is to come, the promises to be fulfilled. And when the moments of celebrations come in this life, remember that they are mere shadows, glimpses, of the celebration to come—one in which we can jump without recourse, live without pain, and will always be near the Son. And it is in that thought, that we can truly jump for joy.