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.
In what areas of your life are you settling for a secondhand experience?