It was a simple thing—procedural, really. With a five point lead, the San Antonio Spurs seemed poised to end the NBA Finals and subsequently be crowned 2013 NBA Champions. So the crew was notified to prepare for the celebration. Yellow tape was brought out to keep fans from the court, where the new champions would receive their accolades. A stage was brought from the tunnel and readied to be heaved to the center of the floor. And the Heat players looked on during a timeout. They saw the tape, they saw the stage—a gavel tightening in the judge’s hand.
“It was getting me [ticked] off,” said Chris Bosh, Miami Heat center, in reference to the yellow tape, and its apparent declaration of the opponent’s coming victory.
Anger. Agitation. Alarm. Whatever it was that image caused for the other Heat players was made evident in the remaining 28 seconds of regulation and five-minute overtime. “We grabbed onto something we didn’t want to give up,” Bosh continued, speaking about the riveting comeback or Spurs collapse, depending upon one’s vantage.
And while the tape and the stage didn’t cause the Heat to win—a fool notion, indeed—surely it did awaken something; it would be foolish to think it did not. It enlivened a sense of determination through magnifying a depth of shame: they had, after all, allowed this seemingly impending elimination to happen there on their own home floor; they had allowed defeat to creep upon them and encircle them, as represented in that yellow tape. And knowing that even though they might lose anyway, the team resolved to fight on despite and finish hard, come what may.
That is all fine and well. But it is also sports. In a year we won’t remember much about it, and in ten years, it will have entirely faded from the memory of all but a few. But the power of a moment of resolve—a dogged-moxie wave of courage—well that is worth clinging to, learning from, and emulating in the world outside the arena.
And, of course, here I am not speaking of basketball any more or less than I am of Churchill standing firm against Hitler, or the men dying bravely at the Alamo, or those who stormed the beach at Normandy, or the elementary school student who stood up to the schoolyard bully, or any such blissful moment of rugged determination. Whether referencing a great, noble feat or the more tame winning of a seemingly lost game, these moments are the marks of a life of gusto, of passion, of courage, however great or small.
So the question hits hard: What is my yellow tape? What do I see creeping in on the edges of my world, my dreams, and refuse to tolerate? What thing fills me with a core-gripping, righteous anger that inspires action to stand, to fight, to pray bravely against?
And perhaps harder still, what if my life is void of yellow tape?
What if I look into the black heart of sex trafficking or the devastation of poverty or the plight of orphans or the Gospel-less people groups or my unsaved neighbors, and my heart sits still, fat, and fleshy?
May we all be reminded of Christ’s example, be softened to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and be mindful of God’s provision as we look at a world full of yellow tape, and, in His power, seek to stand up and do something, both great and small, about it . . . Even if that begins with looking out and seeing the tape in the first place.