Pinky Power

July 4th, 2013 § 0 comments

The intro music started and the team began to take the court. It was the first and last Christmas tournament he would ever play in and now as an 8th grader, he started to warm up. As the other team began to size up the competition, they began to whisper, point, and laugh. Even parents in the stands were making faces as they watched him shoot, dribble, and pass the ball. They thought the SKYHAWKS were a joke that day and they seriously underestimated the competition. The reason?

He had no hands – only a pinky on one finger.

“They’re so bad they had to let a kid with one finger on the team,” the opposition must have thought. Late in the first quarter, he took the court. He played great defense… handled the ball well… and then it happened. We called a play that would leave him wide open in the corner if run correctly. The screen was set and the ball came to him. The defender began to close the gap when the shot went up, and with a hand in his face he let it fly.

I knew what was about to happen, but apparently, I was one of only a few. I had seen him do this in practice many times. As the ball went in the hoop, it made the most beautiful sound – swish! People all over the gym went nuts! I looked over to one of our assistant coaches – tears filled his eyes. The athletic director of the school, Coach Lee Cardia, was crying, and I tried to keep my composure as I reflected on the weight of the moment.

This kid – Benton Jones – who had tried out for basketball every year since 5th grade – finally made the team. Then, in the biggest tournament of the year – the one that every basketball lover in the school looks forward to – he hits a three-pointer “in someone’s eye.” Does it get any better than that?

It does.

Hitting that shot in the corner was not a big deal to Benton. He would go on to be one of the better shooters on our team that year. Benton had spent hundreds of hours practicing during his four years of trying out but not making the team. I’ve seen more talented basketball lovers throw in the towel much earlier in their quest to become the next Michael Jordan.

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Not only that, but with one pinky, Benton had the best handwriting in his class. He could throw a football better than most guys on my flag football team. And he rarely needed help with anything that he was expected to do at school. We called it “pinky power” that year, but we knew it was more than that. God had given Benton parents who raised the risk in how they reared him. In many areas of his life, they let him figure it out.

And for almost everything, he did.

Benton’s life theme is raising the risk. It started with feeding himself, then tying his shoes, then using scissors, then writing, then throwing a ball, and then driving (with a whole lot in-between). Stop and think about this for a minute. Didn’t all of us start out that way? We had to figure things out. Now some may have a higher IQ. Some may have better coordination. And some may have more fingers to complete the most basic tasks of this life. Regardless, we are finite beings who learn to figure things out.

We risk being criticized for trying something so challenging that we fail a few times before success comes. But when we persevere and push through, we achieve much more than we had planned. Doesn’t adversity lead to strength? Since when did we think that the easy way or the path of least resistance led to God’s will?

The next time you are challenged – or fail at something a few times – think back on Benton Jones or the thousands like him who don’t use a limitation as an excuse for mediocrity,  and raise the risk as you get back up one more time.

Benton just graduated from the University of North Florida. He is pictured here with one of his best friends, Blake Kennedy.

Benton just graduated from the University of North Florida. He is pictured here with one of his best friends, Blake Kennedy.

Raise the Risk: Today, Benton is involved in campus ministry at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He is working to change the world one student at a time through an evangelism and discipleship project known as Resolution, which is a part of Every Nation Campus Ministries. He writes,

As a campus missionary, I have the privilege of creating a team of partners who can support me financially so I can be FULLY focused on doing full-time campus ministry so, together, we can reach the campus for Christ. I am looking for both monthly supporters, which is often done through automated giving, and one time supporters, which can be done online.

To support Benton’s ministry and ongoing work to take the Gospel to college students, click here or send a check to Southpoint Community Church:

7556 Salisbury Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256
*Checks payable to “Florida Student Ministries” and the memo would read “Benton Jones – RTR”

You may contact Benton directly at his email saltmaster513@gmail.com to offer words of encouragement and affirmation or to ask any questions about his work in North Florida.

 

Closing Challenge:

1) Meditate on these verses from God’s word this week as you consider what you may be facing. (Romans 5:2-5; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; James 1:2-4, 12; Hebrews 12:1-2; Revelation 2:10)
2) Who or what is most challenging to you right now? Is this person or situation drawing you closer to God or drawing you away from God? If away from God, confess that to Him now.
3) Instead of asking God why He let you fail at something, ask Him what He is trying to teach you through this adversity.

Prayer: Ask God to put things in perspective for you in this life – in success and defeat.

 

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