So much of the time, we measure greatness in sports in terms of moments. A great catch in football, an impressive dunk in basketball, or a phenomenal iron shot in golf. Or, we might think of greatness in terms of a dominant game where a batter hits 4 home runs or a golfer shoots a 59. We might even measure greatness in terms of a magnificent season by a team or an individual athlete. None of those things are wrong, but some of sports greatest achievements cannot be measured with a stopwatch—they have to be appreciated with a calendar.
This was certainly true when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for playing in consecutive baseball games in the major leagues. His streak ended after 2,632 consecutive games played—a record that took 17 years to accomplish. Similarly, A. C. Green played 1,192 consecutive games in the NBA, the record for that league. Both streaks are impressive, but both streaks also included a mixture of wins and losses. And that is what makes the UConn women so impressive. Yesterday, the UConn women’s basketball team won their 88th consecutive game with a dominant win over #10 Ohio State—tying the record set by John Wooden’s UCLA teams of the 1970’s to rise to a historic standard for excellence and consistency over a very long period of time.
To me, this serves as a timely reminder that, for followers of Christ, life is also a journey. Yes, there are moments—some high and some low—and there are seasons—some joyful and some filled with despair. But it is really about the journey, calling us to what one writer referred to as a “long obedience in the same direction.” This kind of journey is characterized by what the Bible calls “faithfulness”—the commitment and passion to stay the course and live with the purpose of honoring the Savior. At the conclusion of his years of faithful service, the apostle Paul concluded that his journey, a journey characterized by faithfulness, had been worth it by saying:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
Even as he faced death, Paul’s focus was not on the moment, but on the journey. My prayer is that, when I face that moment, I will be able to be just as confident about the quality of my journey. I trust you long for that as well.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain