Some years ago I coached a high school basketball team through a rather unusual season. The season began with a number of disappointing losses. Some of the fans and townspeople didn’t make a secret of their unhappiness over the team’s failures. There was considerable public comment, and it was a challenging time for the players. Several of them finally became discouraged and withdrew from the team. Those who remained didn’t lose faith in themselves or in their coach. The rough going seemed to be an incentive for them to try even harder.
At midseason the team began to win their games. They qualified for the district tournament and surprised everyone there by winning a place in the state play-offs. To the amazement of everyone, they went on to win the state championship—the first ever to be won by their school!
Following the celebration and the awarding of trophies after the championship game, I drove several of the team members back to our city. There was silence during much of the ride as we each reflected on the incredible outcome of our season’s efforts. Finally one of the young men spoke. “Coach,” he said, “I think we were supposed to win tonight.”
I was curious to know what had prompted this conclusion. “Why do you think we were supposed to win?” I asked.
His response was simple and direct—and I will never forget its impact: “Because we paid the price.”
May God help each of us to “pay the price” so that we may one day return to Him, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.