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November 27 – Basketball Goal

Psalm 51

Do you want to discover my worst flaws? Just ask Lisa, my daughter. She will happily tell you. For months, I promised to put up a basketball goal. The equipment was in the shed, so one windy, fall afternoon, under my daughter’s watchful eye, I began assembling the goal. The directions said: first, dig a hole then attach the goal to the pole and place the entire assembly into the hole. 

“Sounds simple enough,” I thought. Everything went fine. The hole was dug. The assembly was attached. All I needed to do was pick up the basketball goal and place it into the hole. Did I mention that it was extremely windy?

Just as I stood the pole upright, the wind literally ripped the entire assembly out of my hands, carrying everything several yards before crashing to the ground and smashing the backboard into several pieces. My pastoral dignity was completely forgotten as the curses flowed. Fortunately, we lived in an isolated area and only one person heard me! Unfortunately, that one person was my daughter, and I was about to learn a hard lesson.

“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2)

Not much was said until Sunday. During worship as I asked for prayer requests, I noticed several youth giggling on the back row as my daughter raised her hand. “Please pray for my dad and his temper!” she said with a sly smile.

I was caught foul mouthed and red-handed. I then had to tell everyone how their pastor blew it. After my confession, we were able to laugh but I realized that God revealed through my mishap an important lesson. 

Everyone at times has the equivalent of basketball goals ripped out of their grasp. A businessman loses his temper over a misunderstanding and insults a close friend. A wife feels betrayed over her husband’s crude comments in front of friends. A father angrily confronts his son’s coach during practice.

In the heat of passion, tragic errors of judgment can occur. The lesson of Psalm 51 is difficult but clear. We must ask for and freely offer forgiveness. Once the stain of guilt is removed, we feel better about ourselves and our relationship with God. With a clean heart, our spirit is renewed.

Prayer Challenge: Read Psalm 51 and know that your sins can be forgiven.