my bracket is so busted!

Good thing I am not now, nor have I ever been a gambler. In fact, in a recent post I reminisced about how I was brought up to always play it safe, to never take risks. Nevertheless, with this being the season of March Madness, and me being a big basketball fan, having grown up in a state where basketball rules, – I did the unthinkable – I filled out an NCAA basketball tournament form. You know the one. It’s the one with all the brackets. The one where you predict the winners and losers of each game, bracket by bracket (or match up by match up) until you arrive at the final four teams remaining and then the ultimate champion of this year’s NCAA tournament.

Full disclosure – no money was required for me to fill out this form and submit it. Someone at the school where I work organized this for fun. I don’t know what the prizes or rewards are for those who come closest in their predictions to what prove to be the actual outcomes. And now I realize I will never know because I will not be one of the eventual winners. My bracket is so busted already. Many of my brackets are broken beyond belief, even in this early stage of the tournament.

And here’s the reason why. The unforeseeable, the unlikely, the unimaginable, the unpredictable has become reality in my team of choice’s first game – which was a game between a sixteen seed and my team, a number one seed. Logic would dictate that the number one seeded team would be the better bet to fill the bracket and move on to the next game of the tournament, right? But maybe that’s why they call it “March Madness”, because there is no logic to it – no rhyme nor reason. Past performance doesn’t dictate current outcome. All bets are off as they say. (whoever “they” are?)

And yet we fill out our brackets and bet on basketball outcomes using our best powers of prediction. Having the additional info that the sixteen seeded team is the shortest team in the tourney, that this is their coach’s first year at this school and that their opponent, the number one seed, has one of the tallest players in the tourney – I felt secure in filling in my bracket with the name of the number one seeded team, which is also my alma mater. But, as it turns out, my confidence was misplaced. My hopes were dashed and my bracket was busted when my team, a number one seed, lost to the sixteen seeded team last night. I did not see that coming!

Now my bracket is busted! In fact, now many of my brackets are broken beyond repair, as I had my team going all the way to the final four. There’s no coming back from this. I put my hope in the wrong team and now everything is lost. Additionally, I put misplaced hope in a few other high ranking teams, Virginia for example, who were also defeated, leaving my other brackets busted as well. I put my hope in the wrong teams and now my brackets are busted beyond belief!

Good thing I don’t gamble for a living. My powers of prediction aren’t that great. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t even know what challenges and opportunities today has in store for me. How can I live with such uncertainty day to day? If a number sixteen seed can upset a number one seed, then anything can happen. How can I live my life without anxiety and fear in a world filled with uncertain circumstances, a world in which anything can happen? My hope was in the wrong team. But in life, I know where or with whom to put my hope.

These words of the apostle Paul about putting his hope in Jesus Christ, are words I say along with him –

” . . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

The missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jesus gave similar advice saying –

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

And Peter said this –

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Wow! I have hope – a living hope! I have an inheritance in heaven kept secure for me, waiting for me. This is a sure thing, unlike the busted brackets of my March Madness hopes which proved so disastrous for me. Who I put my hope in makes all the difference. I need a sure thing, Someone I can count on. Someone who won’t let me down.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)

I will not be disappointed. My Heavenly Father will not let me fall. In fact in Jude I read,

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy -” (Jude 1:24)

My team let me down, but my Heavenly Father will not.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130:7-8)

unfailing love, full redemption from all my sins – sign me up! I will put my hope in God’s word and in His Son, Jesus Christ (who are one and the same – “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)

sincerely, Grace Day

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