“Busted Brackets”

I love college basketball. I especially love the Men’s NCAA tournament. 68 teams make up four regions in a “lose and you are out” format. The goal and dream of each team is to make it to the prestigious “Final Four,” which is scheduled to take place this year in San Antonio, Texas.

As I write this, my favorite college basketball team, the University of North Carolina Tarheels, has already been eliminated in the second round of the tournament. I’m not sure who I will pull for now (it won’t be Duke, Kentucky, or Syracuse.)

One of the time-honored traditions for fans of college basketball is the opportunity to fill out a tournament bracket. Filling out a bracket is as simple as picking who you think will win each game, on the way to choosing the teams you think will be in the “Final Four, and the team you believe will be the eventual champion of college basketball.

I proudly submitted my bracket to the ESPN tournament challenge, along with over 17 billion other fans. After the first two rounds of the tournament, there are now 16 teams remaining. These teams are affectionately known as “The Sweet Sixteen.” Of those 16 teams, I correctly predicted only five of them to make it. That’s a terrible percentage.

I now have what is referred to as a “Busted Bracket.” Only two of the five teams that I have correctly chosen so far even have a chance to make it to the Final Four. And the team I picked to “win it all,” Arizona, lost in the first round of the tournament.

I’ve been thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a do-over?” You know, like a mulligan in golf. A chance to redeem my “busted bracket.”

Life can sometimes be like a “busted bracket.” Failures, shortcomings, and poor choices often weigh us down and cause us fear and anxiety. Maybe we feel as if we let someone down, or even let God down. Too often we choose the way of hatred over love, conflict over peace, retaliation over reconciliation. If only we could have a “do over!”

God specializes in granting “do-overs.” Your “busted bracket” does not define who you are! We are God’s children, and God loves each of us! God has already defined who you are: God’s beloved child made in God’s image. You are created for great things. God is not like Zeus, looking for a chance to destroy those who go against Him. God is like Jesus! Loving, forgiving, compassionate…our Friend who wants nothing but the best for each of us! God does not play the game according to rule of “lose and you are out.”

So, don’t let “busted brackets” get you down. For Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

By the way, when does baseball season start?

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