It’s already being hailed as one of the greatest NCAA championship games, and for good reason. The game was close throughout. Both teams were switching on and off with the lead. At the end of the half, Villanova was down by 5. Within a few minutes in the second half, Villanova took the lead and at one point extended the gap by 10 points. With about five minutes left, North Carolina hit the gas and started to close in. With 14 seconds left on the clock, North Carolina was only down by 3 points. One of their players pulled off an incredible jump shot to tie the game with 5 seconds left. It all came down to the next play. The Villanova guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, caught the inbounds pass and sprinted down the court. At the last moment, he dumped the ball over to a teammate, Kris Jenkins. Jenkins quickly stopped and pulled up for a 3-point shot. The ball came off of his hand with half a second left. Time stood still as every player watched his fate unfold. Nothing else could be done. No more effort could change the outcome. As the final buzzer sounded, the ball came soaring through the orange rim. The crowd erupted. Villanova had won (Watch It Here)!
Pure elation was seen on every Villanova player. For many of them, this was the pinnacle of their basketball career. This was something they had been dreaming of since childhood. But as several players were interviewed, a theme started to unfold. From Kris Jenkins, to Arcidiocono, to other players, they all said the play went “just like we practiced.” You could see this preparation mindset unfold even before the shot. Another player, Daniel Ochefu, had fallen to the court to try to stop North Carolina just a few seconds earlier. With sweat all over the floor, Ochefu took the mop from the ball boy to make sure the area was completely dry. Why? Because in practice, this was the same location Ochefu would be setting a pick and where Arcidiacono would make a cut to get around a defender before passing the ball to Jenkins. From the mopping, to the passing, to the shot, and even to the two other players whose job was simply to run down to the end of the court and draw players away from the action, everything came down to their preparation. It resulted in an NCAA National Championship crown.
There is a well-known saying, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” This applies to every aspect of life. It applies to basketball. It applies to our careers. It most certainly applies to Christianity. Every moment of this life is somehow preparing us for eternity. The way we practice and prepare will determine our eternal destination.
Matthew details out a series of parables about how people prepared for eternity. The foolish servant delayed his preparation and faced punishment (Matthew 24:45-51). The unprepared virgins didn’t have enough oil in the lamps and couldn’t partake in the reward (Matthew 25:1-13). The servant with one talent also did little to prepare for his master’s return and faced the penalty (Matthew 25:14-30). In each case, they weren’t ready.
There is no reason for us not to be ready for eternity. God has given us all the instructions and warnings we could ever need. There is no reason we shouldn’t make it to that eternal reward. Let’s keep in mind that our Master is also coming soon. The time to prepare is now. And the crown will be worth the effort!