Keep on trying
Markus Burden bounced the basketball one, two, six times before striding forward, bouncing the ball one more time and then, in full stride, heaved the ball from half-court. I have no doubt the shot was launched with hope, wishful thinking, and, perhaps, a silent prayer. The ball arced toward the basket 47 feet away and dropped cleanly through the net. As the popular cliché goes, the crowd went wild.
So did Markus.
His shot did not win the NBA championship game, the NCAA title game, or even a local city league championship. More importantly to Markus, the half-court shot won him free out-of-state tuition for the fall semester at Ball State University, where the 18-year-old Frankfort, Ill., native is a freshman. He was competing in the half-court shot competition a couple of weeks ago as part of the university’s Welcome Week activities.
Markus’ good fortunate is a heart-warming story, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a story that each of us should ponder. Maybe there is more to it than just a story of good luck.
The first reaction for many would be envy or jealousy. Why didn’t that happen to me? I should be so fortunate. “He’s probably some rich kid who doesn’t really need it,” some of us might be tempted to say. I don’t think so in this case. Markus acknowledged to a reporter that hitting the basket and winning the free tuition “was an overwhelming feeling,” but he added that his good fortune “gives us a lot of breathing room right now.” Sounds to me like it was something he and his family could really use.
Perhaps there is a lesson in perseverance here or, at least, a reminder that success does not always come on the first try. As my mother told me umpteen times as a child, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Markus didn’t hit that shot on the first try. He took advantage of every opportunity he had. He was allowed four shots, and it was on the fourth attempt that he hit the winner.
Markus is not a college basketball player, nor did he play in high school. So, he was trying something at which he had not demonstrated natural talent or ability. Shooting baskets was not something he was trained in. However, Markus (this is my day for clichés) was willing to try something outside the box. Rather than saying it was not something he could do or taking the position that no way would he attempt something like that in front of a bunch of people, Markus stepped up and tried. It goes without saying that he would never have succeeded if he had not tried.
Sometimes, a willingness to try, bolstered by a touch of hope, can result in success. Adding faith to the mix will also bring blessing to your endeavors. Keep trying, keep believing. You may be surprised at what you achieve.
You may not win a semester of free tuition, but you may achieve something of equal or greater value to you. Sometimes, you may discover, just trying again and succeeding is a treasured reward in itself.