Thanks to a generous friend and a friend-of-a-friend who has season tickets to the Bulls games, Daniel and I were the recipients of an experience we never would have splurged on ourselves: eighth-row seats to a real-live NBA game.
I’ll never forget the moment the players stepped onto the court to warm up. I sucked in my breath as they walked toward us. “They’re not this tall on TV!” I kept whispering to Daniel. I’m sure it got old after I repeated myself for the eighth time, but I couldn’t get over how goliath they were in close proximity. “I think I come up to the waistband on number 13’s shorts!”
I’ve been a basketball fan for years, but being at a game in person—and in row 8, no less—was like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time after years of merely looking at photographs. Everything was bigger, faster, louder without a screen separating us. I could hear Nate Robinson announcing the plays, I could see the look in Luol Deng’s face when he was calling for the ball, I could hear the players’ yammerings with the refs, I could see just how fast Taj Gibson moved his feet to deke his defender.
Shoot, we were so close I could practically smell the players’ sweat.
At halftime I found myself considering how much easier it is to take in a game secondhand. You don’t have to fight the traffic, you don’t have to find parking, you don’t have to fork over any hard-earned cash. You just turn on your TV and watch the game from the comfort of your couch. But that ease comes at a price—you also lose the grandness of the firsthand experience.
I wonder how often I try to take the shortcut in other areas of my life too. It’s more effort, more time to get together with a friend, so I take the easy route and send a message or post a quick note on her wall. There’s nothing wrong with those convenient methods of communication, of course—as long as they don’t creep in to become a cheap replacement of the real thing.
And what about my relationship with God? How often do I settle for a secondhand relationship with him, content to hear about him through a sermon or a book or a friend without taking the extra effort to go deep myself?
“Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth….[Christ] waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”
—A. W. Tozer
The Bulls, by the way, experienced a rather ugly loss to a team they should have beaten soundly. But it didn’t matter all that much. Just being eight rows from greatness was gift in itself.
Question: In what areas of your life are you settling for a secondhand experience?