Creating Separation

March.

To some it means warmer weather, flowering trees, and emerging from a long, cold winter. To others it promises that the end of another school year is in view and the stress of term papers, science projects and finals will be over and done (for a while anyway). Others think of it as the beginning of daylight-saving time and longer evenings filled with sunshine and outdoor activities.

For me, March can only mean one thing: 

Basketball!

Here in my adopted home of Georgia, football almost always gets top billing. While I love a good game on the gridiron too, in my native North Carolina, college basketball is on a whole different plane. Of course, March Madness has gain in popularity across the country over the years, but back home, basketball … ACC Basketball to be specific… is always the lead story!

As I was catching up on some of the amazing moves and spectacular buzzer beating shots as conference tournaments wrapped up last weekend, I heard someone say something that caught my attention…

“Great athletes play in space.”

What the commentator was referring to is the discipline known as “creating separation.” Simply put, “separation” is the gap made between the ball handler and the defender.  Successfully achieved, the offense can elude defenders and more easily execute a pass or shot. That’s really what basketball is all about. While it may appear to casual watchers that the team is just moving randomly around the court, the players are always aggressively striving to create physical distance between themselves and their opponent so they will be better positioned to make a high percentage goal.

And for the game of life, ‘creating separation’ is a fantastic discipline for Christians too. So often, believers who become lax in their disciplines can find themselves easily hemmed in and so smothered by temptation that they are unable to get free enough to advance.

Instead of falling back, Christians need to consciously move out into the open (toward righteous living) and away from being cornered by self-indulgence. Instead of getting double-teamed by compromise and sin, we need to aggressively fight toward the goal of becoming like Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

As with any good athlete, we must be vigilant to changing strategies, carefully identify our weaknesses that can be exploited by our opponent (Satan) and be ready to take a time-out to regroup when we fall behind. And in the times when we find ourselves facing fierce opposition and heavily guarded on all sides, it’s then we need to return to the basics and be coached by the words of Paul:

“Keep away from youthful passions…”
Actively “pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace…”
Work “…in company with others (our teammates) who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Tim 2:22)

Once we learn to create that separation between ourselves and things that try to block us out, we’ll be better positioned to score in those key moments when the game is on the line.

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