It’s hard to imagine March Madness without at least one “Cinderella story.” This year, I submit the North Carolina State Wolfpack as the candidate for the proverbial glass slipper. After an average season in the ACC, in which they were barely .500 at 9-7, the Pack was only deemed worthy of an 11-seed. Then, on Friday, they beat the 6-seed, San Diego State, 79-65, and followed that win with a huge upset over 3-seed Georgetown on Sunday, 66-63. It marks NC State’s first visit to the Sweet 16 in years—a tremendous achievement for a school that hasn’t won a national championship since 1983. This year’s Wolfpack makes a very good, if unexpected, prospect for the role of Cinderella at the Big Dance, though it remains to be seen whether they are overachieving or just late bloomers. In either case, the glass slipper looks good on them heading to the Sweet 16.
As unexpected as NC State’s run in this year’s tournament may be, it probably doesn’t compare to the shock I imagine was displayed on Jesse’s face when the Old Testament prophet Samuel anointed Jesse’s youngest son—David, the shepherd boy—as Israel’s next king. But this was no Cinderella story. It was a moment that defines the difference between the way God sees as opposed to how we often see. As Samuel systematically rejected David’s older, larger, and more experienced brothers, Jesse was caught off guard. But the Lord made it clear that this choice would not be made on human standards:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
From the perspective of humanity, David simply didn’t measure up—but the God who sees the heart knows the character, devotion, and spirit that matter most. And what He sees is infinitely more important than the evaluation or critique of any human being.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain