So I watched the big SPURS victory tonight. Two overtimes and a 2 point win. Yay. I’m not a huge basketball fan unless one of our boys is playing. I barely caught the end of the first overtime and didn’t get into the game until about the middle of the second OT. But watching a guy who had missed his last 7 shots make a 3 point to win the game really stirred something in my heart.

We’ve all watched people love other people who are really hard to love. People who set their love on others. Sometimes from the sidelines we want to take them out of the game. Unnecessary loving. It’s hard to watch love be taken advantage of. Especially as a spectator. BUT  They make a choice to love….and sometimes a commitment…and while they may feel like a failure at times…there are some who have never given up.

I like to watch those people. Especially when they’re worn down. They are obviously tempted to give up. They’ve been offended one too many times. Rejected. Ignored. Taken advantage of. They want to throw in the towel. They may feel they have forgiven for the last time. They. are. done. But no. They choose to keep loving. Something in them enables them to take a time out, pick up the basketball, consult the coach,  and get back on the court…back in the game of love. And even shoot a couple times praying it’ll go in.

In the game of love that looks different for many of us. Mom’s who are loving a teenage son through wayward years and are disrespected and ignored and taken advantage of…somehow still find it in their hearts to make their son’s favorite meal….wash his sheets…make his bed…pray over him as he sleeps….all as an expression of love. Husband’s whose wives are up to their necks in hormones and deadlines and kids projects and weight loss goals…lovingly pray from a safe distance. Often ridiculed by the object of their love because they don’t seem know what to do. But they love the best way they know how. And they do the little things. They often do the NEXT thing. They take care of the small details that Mom doesn’t even realize she forgot…keeping her from total tailspins and taking the entire family with her.  We’ve seen friends who love their friends through wretched choices. Rebellion. Abandonment. Betrayal.  Even children love parents who are hard to love. Oh this is a gut wrenching episode. I’ve seen a little girl reach up to hold her mother’s hand…mom was irritated and swatted it away in anger. Broke my heart in pieces. I’ve seen little boys draw stick figure artwork in hopes of winning over their parent’s stressed face with a smile.  In school cafeterias…bully’s being treated with kindness because some kids are just that resilient. Loving those who are hardest to love.

I just want to submit to you…to those of you who are worn out with loving…that you never know when your 3 point shot is going to count. You never know when an expression of your love that has fallen for years on a hard heart, deaf ears, & stone cold body will finally stir up in them  eyes wide open, hands outstretched, blood pumping heart ready to respond. You never know. You may have felt like you’ve played a long and drawn out game that has no winners. But it might be the second overtime. And the game might be on the line. And your 3 point shot is a hand written letter. Or a hug. Or an outreached hand that has been a clinched fist for way too long. Or just whisper “I forgive you.” He hears. The Coach hears. Your 3 point shot goes in. And the game is clinched. Love wins.

There is One who knows how the game ends. He’s on the court. He’s wide open. He doesn’t jump up and down and beg for the ball. He’s got the whole court in His hands. He just asks that we seek His face. Yet we are so tempted….we see an open shot…we know WE could be the hero!! We can run in and toss it up….2 points!! But HE knows we need 3. Three points. Not 2 points and a show off.  He knows what will bring victory. Ask Him. Ask Him to show you how love wins. He knows the story well. It will give you what you need to love the most unlovable people in your lives. With an eternal love that WINS. Maybe today you just need to do the NEXT thing.