True love and a buzzer-beater

Published 10:08 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game between the University of North Carolina and Villanova University was an instant classic.

With four seconds remaining, Marcus Paige of UNC made an incredible three-point shot to tie the game. The championship was headed for overtime, unless the Wildcats could pull off something spectacular.

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As you probably know, that’s exactly what happened. Just before the final buzzer sounded, Kris Jenkins of Villanova sent forth a ball from far beyond the three-point arch. As the buzzer sounded and the backboard lit up, the ball sailed through the net.

It was, perhaps, the most scintillating moment in the storied history of college basketball, at least if you were pulling for Villanova. If you were pulling for the Tarheels, it was an absolute heartbreaker.

Why do we allow ourselves to get so invested in sports? Whenever we pull hard for a team, the potential exists for getting let down hard. Yet we continue to watch. Why?

Part of the reason we watch is precisely because we do not know the outcome. Deep down, we enjoy the suspense. And we are willing to suffer the agony of defeat in the hope that one day we will experience the thrill of victory.

Still, we have to know that when we are true fans of a team, sooner or later we will get our hearts broken. In fact, whenever we love anyone or anything we open ourselves up to getting our hearts torn apart. But would we really want it any other way?

In his classic book, “The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis says, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Do we really want to live like that?

Simon and Garfunkel wrote about such a person in their song, I Am A Rock: “I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain… I am a rock, I am an island… I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved I never would have cried. I am a rock, I am an island. Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.”

But a rock never experiences love, either. Lewis is right: To love anything is to be vulnerable. But what if you knew you were deeply loved by Someone who will “never leave you or forsake you?” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Someone who would never let you down, whose love never fails?

I know Someone like that, and I hope you do. He has proven His love for us time and time again, but ultimately on a cross.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.