Every year around this time a handful of sports stories pop up across the country, and they are among the best we hear all year long. Two such instances occurred recently with the remarkable displays put on by Zach Slone and Robert Lewis at their respective high school basketball games. Slone and Lewis are both special needs students who are managers for their teams—one in Marion, Ohio, and the other in Franklin, Tenn.— that were given a chance to play on senior night for the first time. Each scored in the game’s final moments and was hailed and honored by teammates, coaches, and classmates. These stories never fail to make us smile and warm our hearts.
What is it that makes these types of stories grab us every single time? Something about them draws us unlike a mere underdog story or an emotional Disney-style ending. There is something far more substantive to these stories, far more gravitational.
What pulls us in is the humanity of them. I don’t mean the mere human-interest aspect, though that is definitely a factor. I mean humanity in its truest sense, the way God made us to be. Stories like this reveal something of our design that has been tarnished and twisted by sin.
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Above all, the ingredient that sets apart these stories is how it was one of the “least of these” who was made the hero.
These stories resonate with us because it’s what God put in our souls. We forget and suppress it, but these moments remind us. In God’s economy, the “least” by human standards are equal in image-bearing and significance. They too can be heroes of a story. In fact, Scripture tells us over and over again of God raising the least likely person to the forefront.
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Zach Slone, Robert Lewis, and so many others who have similar stories should serve as a reminder to us of what is true and pure and lovely—those things on which we should dwell. Their moments in the spotlight are windows into what will come, a time when the weak will be made strong and we will rejoice in the joy of others.
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