Busted Plays


Sometimes things don’t work out. Not as we planned, or even close.  Sometimes our days and weeks and months and even years seem like busted plays.  Things were supposed to turn out one way, but they ended up another; sometimes another dreadful, miserable or even horrible way. What to do?  Sometimes you have to improvise, suck it up, and gut it out. Sometimes you do have to make it up as you go along.

“Hoop Dreams,” a critically acclaimed 1994 documentary, follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers from Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players.  Agee and Gates are both from poor, African-American neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois. Gates lived in Cabrini–Green while Agee and his family resided in West Garfield Park.

Both are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isaiah Thomas.  Both have “hoop dreams” which end up being busted plays.

Sometimes things don’t work out. That’s when you trust that this “busted play” will turn out in spite and despite our failed efforts.  After all, all of our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags anyway. 

“Mankind” was a busted play. Man was created in God’s image and in God’s likeness, yet things didn’t work out. Not as God had planned, or so it seemed. 

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was a busted play.  They had the Tree of Life they could have eaten from, but they didn’t; they had the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which they weren’t supposed to eat from, but they did – busted play.

The Nation of Israel was a busted play.  The entire nation was to be a Kingdom of priests.  That didn’t quite work out. Instead of all of children of Israel being one conglomerate, obedient Son, they turned out to be a hoard of stiff-necked, hardhearted, calf-making, Baal worshipping, Egypt-remembering, cranky, crabby, grouchy, grumpy , whining and complaining disobedient children who needed to be disciplined more than you would expect.  Busted play.

Leah’s marriage to Jacob was a busted play. Leah was emotionally bruised, battered and beaten.  She was a bruised reed (Isaiah 42:3).  She must have felt used, alone and despised as she was stuck between no-place and nowhere with no-one to turn to. But thankfully God saw her plight, intervened on her behalf, and turned her situation around. Thankfully for Leah and for all others, God executes righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed.  And Leah was oppressed. God sees all, and He saw Leah’s broken, wounded spirit.

In spite of being mistreated, in-spite of her marriage being a “busted play,”  Leah’s life turned all the way around because of her faith in God.  Leah staged one of the greatest comebacks in Biblical history by not giving in and not giving up in the face of opposition. 

Leah’s story is our story, when we turn from trying to please people.  Leah’s victory is our victory when we cease our wandering and going astray from Him.  Leah’s triumph is our triumph when we stop struggling to win the affection of others instead of setting our affection on things above.  Leah’s turnaround is our turnaround when we decide to praise the Lord. 

God can use everything in our lives, even our busted plays.

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