“Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities….and may the Lord do what seems good….” 2 Samuel 10:12
A Word of Hope
It must have been a dream come true for 13 year old Natalie Gilbert to be chosen to sing the National Anthem for game three of the 2003 playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers. She began poised and clear and strong, but then a fumble of words undid her. As panic coursed through her, she lifted the mic to her forehead, moved nervously, then lowered her head, as if trying to hide from the crowd. It was painful to watch. Suddenly Maurice “Mo” Cheeks, coach of the Trailblazers, walked his 6’1” frame across the floor to her side, encouraging her, singing with her (not always in tune), and directing with his hands, until she recovered beautifully and the entire stadium joined in song. One journalist wrote that Cheeks had been known for his game saving “assists,” but this was the most important of his career.
In follow up interviews, the coach said that at the time he didn’t consider himself as someone who would step into a situation like that. But seeing Natalie struggling, so helpless and embarrassed, he just couldn’t stand by and not render support.
Every day we have the opportunity to lend an “assist” –in our personal relationships, with strangers, at work or school, in ministries, on local and national issues. And even if we don’t see ourselves as someone who can step up as Cheeks did, more and more we need people who act with this kind of courage. Brenee Brown reminds us that all courageous acts require our vulnerability, and most of us are uncomfortable with that. But the two partner in acts of kindness and moral good.
In our own time, it is often the young who embody uncommon courage and conviction—young women like Greta Thunberg with her climate activism and the young people of Marjorie Stoneman Douglass in their advocacy for gun control. They stride across the floor of public passivity and political resistance and risk being misunderstood– and even threatened– to witness, to advocate, and to transform.
Risk-taking God, call us to stride across the floor and spur us to courage. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon