The Joy of Sweat

Date: Thursday morning? -? Time: 7:43 A.M.? -? Location: The Gymnasium

I shouldn’t feel this exhausted. My heart is hammering and my legs feel like jelly. I’m trying to sprint down the court but can only manage a half-hearted jog. Sweat pours off my face and my chest heaves. My mouth hangs open with exhaustion. A casual observer would think I was miserable.

The game is tied at 14 – one more point wins the game. My team sets up on offense and I receive the ball at the top of three point line. I dribble right, survey the floor, dribble left. The defense is stifling and I’m covered too well to take a shot. Suddenly I see an explosion of movement off to the right. One of my teammates is cutting to the basket.

I rifle the ball through the defense, hoping to catch my teammate in stride. Unfortunately my pass is too far left and leaves him without a shot. But the sudden movement has caused a ripple in the defense and a man is standing wide open in the corner. My teammate fires him the ball, and he lifts a high arcing shot toward the basket. Everyone holds their breath in anticipation. But something – a slight increase in gravity, a hangnail, the movement of the moon – has knocked the shot slightly off course and it rattles in and out of the hoop.

The opposing team gets the rebound, sprints down the court, and knocks down the game-winning shot. Game over. We lose. Thanks for playing, try again next time.

I walk/limp out of the gym. My neck hurts. And my back. And my lungs. Yet in spite of the pain, and the loss, there’s a smile on my face. I’m aware that basketball is God’s kindness to me. Why do I get to experience the pure joy of playing sports when millions of people can’t even walk? I can run, many can’t even move. Health is a gift. Sweat is a mercy. When I step onto the court I’m experiencing God’s favor, and the only appropriate response is gratitude.

Thank you Lord for my health. Thank you for the gift of sports. Thank you for exercise. Teach me to be more grateful.

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Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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