The form wasn’t correct. He didn’t set his feet. He didn’t square on the goal. He really didn’t shoot it; it was more like throwing the ball toward the basket. He had never made a shot in a game before. This time the rim was kind. After the ball clanged off the front, it ricocheted off the board, bounced around the rim, and fell through the net. In the stands, his private fan club erupted. You would have thought it was the game-winning shot at the NCAA finals. He’s seven, playing in his first organized basketball league.

Yes, we adults can be ridiculous and raucous and rude and juvenile. I’ve been all those things, just ask my wife or sons. But at that moment, all of us were looking at joy … not ours, his. It was pure and innocent and fun. His face told the story – his eyes lit up, his grin was electric.

He was ecstatic … for a few minutes. When the game was over, his first words were: “Can I play with KK’s phone (his grandmother)?” Someone congratulated him for making the shot: “Keep this up and you’ll be like Michael Jordan.” His response: “Who is Michael Jordan?”

We can learn a great deal from our kids. During the game there were two injuries, neither very serious. One player caught an inadvertent elbow to the head. He was on the other team. The other injury was a deflected pass that struck one of his teammates in the nose. In both cases, our hero offered a consoling word and an encouraging pat on the back. The player on his team was the only girl on the court. Smart man.

I was happy for him when he made his shot. I was proud of him when he saw someone hurt and acted to help. Both of those moments were joy-worthy.

Today I hope you seize a moment and experience joy. May it be so obvious to others that they are encouraged to taste joy as well.

There are enough reasons to get down or discouraged. Life can knock us around a bit – an elbow to the head or a shot to the nose. I hope there will be someone close by to pat you on the back. I know those people exist. I saw a seven year-old do it.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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