Villanova head coach, Jay Wright, is bringing his team to the NCAA Championship game tonight against the UNC Tarheels. This is Wright’s first championship game after his team fell short in the Final Four back in 2009. 

I read a great ESPN article by Dana O’Neil about Wright’s coaching story with the headline, “Villanova’s Wright Needed to Fall Before Returning to Final Four.” Although Wright became a big-time coach with the ability to land top-notch recruits, especially after the team’s trip to the Final Four, they followed up that season with a second-round upset loss to Saint Mary’s and a first-round loss to George Mason. They started heading in the wrong direction.

This statement from the article stood out to me the most: “After 2009, it was supposed to be simple. Instead, it became much harder. Wright has admitted that he lost his way, blinded by his own success and starry-eyed at the players who wanted to join his team. He made huge mistakes and costly ones, recruiting kids who topped the rankings but didn’t necessarily match the prototype he had recruited his whole career.”

Fortunately for Villanova, he learned and grew because of his fall, and now he’s been named Coach of the Year with a chance to win the championship tonight.

I’m sure we can all relate to the mindset, “It was supposed to be simple,” especially when it comes to following Jesus. We think, “Everything should go my way now!” But, we are mistaken if we believe life should be easy and void of struggle when we start to follow Jesus. Our life doesn’t become perfect. Instead He uses the brokenness, disappointments, and difficulties to deepen our faith and grow our character.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV), “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Since going to the Final Four in 2009, Wright “lost his way” and dealt with disappointment. But after making necessary changes, he’s going even deeper into the tournament this time around. Following Jesus doesn’t eliminate the challenges, He just uses them to make us stronger and more reliant on Him.

Today, let’s be encouraged that sometimes we need to fall to prepare for His call. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me for doubting You when life isn’t as simple and easy as I want it to be. Thank you, Jesus, for meeting me in my weakness and giving me strength and growing my character. Thank You for using the times I fall to help me complete Your call on my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.