Busted Bracket

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The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” 

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:1-3

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20

Insight

Today's devotional shouldn't exist. If life were fair, I'd be out of the writing game for good; enjoying a cushy retired life thanks to hitting the jackpot by filling out a perfect March Madness bracket. Last year, I poured countless hours (don't tell HR) researching college basketball.  

I created and scrapped numerous versions until I penned the "perfect" bracket. I began to dream of shaking Warren Buffet's hand as he presented me with a giant check. And then, on the first day of the tournament, it happened. The #16 seed Retrievers hailing from the University of Maryland Baltimore County pulled off the impossible by taking down the #1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers. A once-in-a-lifetime feat.  

Bracket busted — hopes dash. Dreams crushed. I'm not alone. 17.2 million brackets were filled out on ESPN this year. How many perfect brackets survived the opening weekend? ZERO. NONE. NADA. ZIP.  It doesn't matter that the likelihood of filling out a flawless bracket is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. We convince ourselves we have what it takes to rise to the occasion and be the anomaly. But, sooner or later, we experience the emptiness of chasing perfection, and we take a loss. 

The same futility exists in our attempts to live a blameless life that meets the standard of God's law. No matter how "good" we might be, no one is "good" enough. A perfect person is a myth. Compared to God's goodness, we all fall short. 

Life happens. The state of our heart makes an appearance. Anger or bitterness rise to the surface. We mishandle our relationships. We give our attention and affection to lesser things. 

We don’t know what to do with those moments when our brokenness becomes evident. Some of us play the blame game and try to justify and excuse our words and actions. There are those who do their best to ignore or numb the issue away. And if none of those courses of action prove to be successful, we play the comparison game. Our bracket might be busted, but we have a higher score than those around us. We are good, just because we aren’t that bad. 

We try to fix our actions and clean up our outward appearance. When we do this, we fail to address the broader issue taking place in our hearts. Sin is a fundamental disregard, disbelief, and distrust of God. It’s not about a broken rule, but a broken relationship. Sin undermines love and relationships. It creates distance. Sin separates us from WHO and what we were made for. 

Sin has a weight that will crush us unless it gets transferred to something that can support and take it. Sin separates, but grace restores. We don’t necessarily get a choice in our struggles. However, we have a say in what we do with those struggles. And Christ wants us to bring our sin, shame and struggles to Him. In our weakness, He wants to show us that He is strong. Acknowledging our sin doesn’t undermine our worth; it allows restoration to take place. And that's a victory we should celebrate. 

Reflection

·     What sin and struggles are you reluctant to acknowledge? Why are you resistant to bring these places to light? 

Prayer

God, in so many ways I fall short. I'm thankful that Your forgiveness and grace fills in that gap and allows my heart restoration. You take my broken heart and make it whole. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.


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