I love this clip from the movie “Hoosiers.” Coach Dale wants his assistant coach, Shooter, the town drunk, to be ready to step up in case he ever gets kicked out of a game. So Coach makes a risky move: when the game is on the line, he puts Shooter on the front line, forcing him to make the calls needed to win the game.
This is no practice. This is the real deal. Shooter fails; team loses. Shooter succeeds; they get a ‘W.’
You can see almost see the thoughts forming in Shooter’s mind when Coach gets kicked out: “How can this be happening? Again? I can’t handle this. I failed miserably last time. I’m not Coach. I’m not able to do this.”
It’s almost identical to what I imagine was going through the disciples’ minds as they watched Jesus ascend to heaven. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives his disciples their final instructions: carry on his mission of making disciples. And then he leaves. He takes himself out of the game.
Why would Jesus leave the most important task in human history in the hands of… humans? We are unqualified and incapable of carrying out this mission on our own. We are the town drunk, sitting on the bench, afraid to speak, afraid to move, watching the final seconds of the game slip away, putting our head in our hands in defeat.
We may look in the mirror and see the town drunk, but Jesus Christ looks at us, His Church, and sees potential and promise. And he did not leave us on our own, he left so the Holy Spirit could come. The only thing that’s changed is then the disciples walked alongside God-in-the-flesh and now we walk with God-inside-us.
This is no practice for us either. This is as real as it gets. Success for us is walking in step with the Spirit, being obedient and faithful to what He calls us to do. Let us do our best to succeed because there is much more on the line than a simple basketball game.