last thursday, the golden state warriors defeated the top-seeded dallas mavericks 111-86 in front of a frenzied home crowd, to cap an improbable 4-2 series victory in the nba conference quarterfinals. it was, in the estimation of many, the biggest upset in the history of the nba playoffs.
not surprisingly, there were some amazing individual performances. team leader baron davis injured a hamstring early in the game, yet managed to continue to impose his will on the heavily favoured mavs, even on one leg. much-maligned stephen jackson scored a playoff career high 33 points (including a cool 4-4 from the 3 point line in the pivotal 3rd quarter); equally important, his defense neutralized presumptive mvp dirk nowitski, effectively taking him out of the game. camp walk-on and 'spare part' matt barnes, also playing on a bad leg, brought an all-around game (16 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, great defense) and a bit of swagger, driving the lane and delivering a hard dunk in the face of the cowed nowitski (posterizing him, as they say) as the warriors pulled away.
in sports, there is a time when a player has to rise to the occasion, to meet a critical challenge or overcome an unforeseen obstacle, if his team is going to have a chance to win. they call it "stepping up." a star player is expected to take over a game at crunch time and lead his teammates to victory. a role player has to take on more responsibility because a starter has been injured or isn't playing well. it often happens when championships are on the line. and in this series, the mavericks only had one player (josh howard) who elevated his game, while for the warriors, player after player stepped up.
in october, during inter-varsity's emerging leaders training, i felt that God was calling me to step up, to take on a role with greater leadership responsibility. in the months that followed, i sought to respond to that call by weighing a couple of key ministry opportunities, either of which would require a move from montreal. this past thursday (coincidentally, the same day warriors davis, jackson, and barnes were stepping up) — after much deliberation, consultation, and prayer — i finally accepted the invitation to become a church planting pastor in the seattle area.
the timing on this move is not what i was expecting or planning for; i fully expected to be here until the summer of 2009, when n would graduate from high school. so this move will require that she start over mid-stream. it will also mean that our international student ministry volunteers and student leaders will have to step up, to rise to the challenge of welcoming and caring for incoming internationals in the coming year without us. we have spent some emotional days meeting with them, doing some training, praying with different ones, trying to give them the best of what we have in the time that is left. we are deeply invested in these folks — and very proud of how they are responding so far. i know that the year ahead will have its ups and downs, and i invite you to join me in praying for them as they offer themselves in faith to God. some of them probably feel like the little boy who offered his lunch of five loaves and two fish to Jesus — but perhaps they will be encouraged by how that turned out!
please pray for us as well, as there are many arrangements to be made, loose ends to tie, and new challenges to be met. more details to follow.
whose woods these are i think i know.
his house is in the village, though;
he will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow.
my little horse must think it queer
to stop without a farmhouse near
between the woods and frozen lake
the darkest evening of the year.
he gives his harness bells a shake
to ask if there is some mistake.
the only other sound's the sweep
of easy wind and downy flake.
the woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but i have promises to keep,
and miles to go before i sleep,
and miles to go before i sleep.
robert frost, "stopping by woods on a snowy evening"