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Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Than Missed Jumped Shots

Paul Shirley is back to blogging. If you are not familiar with Shirley, he occupied the last seat on the Phoenix Sun's bench last season. Shirley makes no bones about the fact that he had a roster spot primarily because he is quite tall. Typically, his blog was filled with very modest (even self-deprecating) comments about his basketball skills, but peppered with a great deal of wit. He is obviously highly intelligent, but very materialistic in his philosophy, as well.

Currently, Shirley is unemployed. He's working out in Kansas City (his hometown), hoping to get a call from a team. As he worked out in a vacant gym, he encountered two elderly folks who were cleaning the building. Shirley explains that he noticed the couple working hard to move some bleachers, and decided to get involved. After helping, he had this interaction with the female janitor:

"When we were finished, I tried to meander back to the court on which I had been working. Before I could, the woman called out to me. She said, "Thank you so much. You're an angel without the halo."

(I should take this opportunity to remind the reader that I am really not that nice. My actions were no different than those that would be taken by even the most callous soul.)

She continued, saying, "I'm going to pray for you." I waved quickly and threw some thanks her way. Undaunted, she said, "No, I mean I'm going to pray for you right now. Come here."

I saw no way to make an escape from the brutally awkward situation I knew would be forthcoming, so I walked toward her. She grasped each of my hands in one of hers, bowed her head, and began a prayer. I am unclear as to the exact order of events, but I remember that there was a call for my "anointing," a brief spat of speaking in tongues, a prayer for my general success, the confirmation that I was indeed one hell of a guy (without the hell part, I suppose), and, lastly, the real kicker, a request for me to be "double anointed," which I gather must be better than the pedestrian solo anointing I had received earlier in the incantation.

She then slapped our hands together, touched the top of my head, and told me that all the success I ever desired would now be mine. I asked her to sign a contract to that effect and offered to put her on my permanent payroll, but she seemed uninterested, so I went back to my court and continued my workout."

Shirley is a skeptic, so he's going to have a cynical attitude. While I don't see the value of speaking in tongues or talking about "double blessings" right in front of a total stranger, my issue is more about success. Paul Shirley has had more "success" in his brief career than most have had in their life. Fame (though limited), athleticism, money have all been available to him while he plays a sport for a living. He immediately saw the fraud of this lady's promises. Even Shirley appears uninterested in a God Who just wants to provide worldly success.

God offers so much more than "success." Why do we sell Him so short by only focusing on the here and now? Paul Shirley continued to miss shots in the gym that night, and this well-meaning couple missed an opportunity to talk to Shirley about what really matters.


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