March is always an exciting month. It brings whispers of spring, the days are longer, flowers are blooming, spring break is in season, which may equate with vacation and college basketball is in her full glory! I struggle with the latter, because as nice as the weather is, there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting in my house watching game after game, with my fingers crossed hoping my bracket isn’t busted. Inevitably foul trouble or injury threatens a star player, resulting in the coach placing reliance upon the bench to attain victory. The bench is vital in that it provides rest for starters, and since they are not playing as much, they bring a freshness often resulting in scoring. Therefore, its important to mention that one can’t assume the bench and not be prepared to contribute. The deepness of one’s bench refers to the skills and gifts that may be called upon to leverage positioning in the game. Thus, in the game of life, how deep is your bench when you are in trouble?
Let’s consider the bench in relation to us. When times get rough, what is on the inside of us that we can call upon for sustainability, endurance and encouragement? We can’t always get what we need from someone else. After all, their bench may be strained; they may be barely making it. Our bench can’t be deep if we don’t take time to cultivate it. What should our regimen be? We must walk it out day and night. The enemy of our soul does not stop. Just as God tells us that he neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4), and I tell you, I think the enemy has learned this methodology from the very best. Since we have knowledge to know that the enemy is going to and fro (Job 2:2), encompassing more than a basketball court, we must be on our game. Our bench will not have the appropriate reserve, as we deplete it by remaining connected to mess. We must actively resist the invitation to suit up in undesignated areas, with undesignated people. We can’t indulge the enemy in every pick up game he invites us to. Our focus must remain on the big dance. We have to trust God to lead and direct us through bracketology. He is completely knowledgeable of the entire situation. He orchestrates low seeded and high seeded battles. Either way, when we are faced with challenge, we must ensure that the Fruit of the Spirit is operational, guarding our mouth and our actions. The Fruit of the Spirit is developed through trials and triumphs. Our plays are outlined in the Word of God. How much do we study it? More importantly, as we are studying it, how much do we consider the fact that we must put into play what we’ve learned?
Not easy. Just like March Madness, sometimes you know the battle ahead of you, like #1 seeded teams, they’ve fought all season long. Other times, you’ve done well, hoped to be recognized, and excited that you’re selected; but wait, you’re up against a top seed, and your visions of victory are ladened with perceived defeat. What’s in you? What’s your bench made of? Joy when children are exercising their independence and making decisions that you know lack wisdom? Peace when all hell is breaking out on your job? Forbearance when you are justified to behave in a particular manner? Kindness when someone is relishing in hating you? Goodness when evil is surrounding you? Faithfulness through someone else assuming liberty? Gentleness in response to harsh conditions; and the biggie…self-control as opposed to behavior that would warrant you to be an extra on Orange is the New Black. It. Ain’t. Easy. Yet, nothing ever worth attaining is.
Through the madness, whether its March or any other month of the year, we’ve got to be committed to working on our bench. We need to be able to pull from our reservoir within to help us to maintain when facing all matter of evil. Our MVP, Christ Jesus provides a solid example to emulate. As we endure trials and tribulations, we must learn the lesson, get what we need and bury it deep within. We never know when we will be called upon, and what it will take for the calling. Make sure your bench is secure. Make yourself better and remain positive. Its always fun to watch the bench. They are connected to the game, especially when things are going well. Sometimes they are so overwhelmed with excitement that they hold each other back. We must take cue from them and learn to encourage ourselves while maintaining peace. God will enable you to make it through the madness! After all, you are his star player.