Dear Hope Family,
As March Madness bleeds over into April and as the iconic brackets of the NCAA basketball tournaments inch closer to their dramatic completion, here in North Carolina, Tarheel fans are coping with the transition of Ol’ Roy Williams into retirement as a coach and some key members of the team into what is known as the “Transfer Portal”.
The Transfer Portal is a relatively new feature of collegiate athletics, through which each year thousands of college athletes declare their intentions to leave the school to which they have committed in hopes of securing greener pastures elsewhere. Dissatisfied with their current circumstances or lured away by dreams of more playing time, competing for a championship, or improving NBA draft prospects, these athletes abandon the previous commitment and re-open their recruitment. The days of entering one particular school, attending class, competing for the team, and graduating now seem more an aberration than the norm. Seth Greenberg, ESPN commentator and former basketball coach at Virginia Tech, caught my attention with a recent observation: recruiting never stops because once the season is over, you now have to re-recruit your own players . . . to stay!
Sadly, the restlessness of the Transfer Portal is not an isolated phenomenon; it is certainly emblematic of my own heart and our collective experience of life in a fallen world. We are quite adept at imagining, entertaining, and going hard after greener pastures and seemingly better possibilities – even if it means abandoning commitments. We can imagine a kinder, more attentive, more attractive spouse. So we keep our eyes peeled. We can conceive of more invested, thoughtful, fun friends. So we look over the shoulders of those God has brought into our lives, searching for better options. Dissatisfied with our current circumstances and lured away by dreams of “better”, we flirt with churches that meet all our needs and all of our preferences, diets that promise health, control, and results, career paths that fulfill and provide without much demand, neighborhoods that are safer, more beautiful and filled with people we enjoy, better schools for children and grandchildren, better financial planners and more lucrative investments, better everything! The Transfer Portal promises an end to our longings but usually over-promises and under-delivers.
We are preparing to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on Easter morning. Of all the incalculable benefits of Christ’s triumph over death and sin, at least one blessing is that Easter offers an enduring solution for our restless restlessness. God did not scrap the world he made when we broke faith and abandoned his commitment to us. He didn’t entertain the possibility of and go hard after more resilient image-bearers, more obedient creatures, a more compliant, faithful humanity. Rather, at the cost of his own life, he reconciled us to himself, providing the rest for our restless hearts we were designed to enjoy from the beginning. Because Jesus has defeated death, risen from the grave, and is making all things new, we are not trapped on the roller coaster of our desires and longings. We are not resigned to consumer hearts jonesing after the next, “better” thing.
Because Jesus has risen from the dead, we can pray Psalm 90: 14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days,” and we can trust that He is answering that prayer – whatever the longing, whatever the circumstance!
I cannot wait to celebrate the Resurrection with you on Sunday!
Grace and peace,