Read a Cavaliers Excerpt

Read a Cavaliers Excerpt

Read Matthew 5:43-48.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v. 48).

Perhaps accounting for her incredible success on the basketball court, Dawn Staley is a perfectionist. Just check out her socks.

Staley “is widely considered the best woman basketball player ever to emerge from the University [of Virginia].” In the four seasons from 1988-1992, the 5’5” guard led the Cavalier women to three Final Fours and one national championship game. She is the only basketball player -- male or female -- in ACC history to tally more than 2,000 points, 700 rebounds, 700 assists, and 400 steals. She set UVa career records in points (broken by Monica Wright in 2010), scoring average, free throws, and assists. She was the national Player of the Year both as a junior and a senior and was a three-time All-America.

Her play led coach Debbie Ryan to say, “Dawn is special to the game. God decided to make only one of her.” Her high school coach said of Staley, who tended to be a loner, “She said hello at the beginning of the season, goodbye at the end, and in between, won all the games.”

Staley honed her considerable skills playing against the boys on the playgrounds of North Philadelphia where she learned early on that if you passed the ball to the guys to shoot, you could play. She became so proficient at finding the open shooter that she was usually picked for a team before some of the older guys.

Dawn Staley’s drive for perfection on the basketball court was nothing new. When she was 3, her mom put socks on her, and she noticed that the red line at the toe of each sock wasn’t straight. After her mother had her ready to go out, she sat down, took off her shoes, and straightened the red lines.

Nobody’s perfect; we all make mistakes every day. We botch our personal relationships; at work we seek competence, not perfection. To insist upon personal or professional perfection in our lives is to establish an impossibly high standard that will eventually destroy us physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Yet that is exactly the standard God sets for us. Our love is to be perfect, never ceasing, never failing, never qualified – just the way God loves us. And Jesus didn’t limit his command to only preachers and goody-two-shoes types. All of his disciples are to be perfect as they navigate their way through the world’s ambiguous definition and understanding of love.

But that’s impossible! Well, not necessarily, if to love perfectly is to serve God wholeheartedly and to follow Jesus with single-minded devotion. Anyhow, in his perfect love for us, God makes allowance for our imperfect love and the consequences of it in the perfection of Jesus.

She was the perfect player. -- High-school coach Tony Coma on Dawn Staley

In his perfect love for us, God provides a way for us to escape the consequences of our imperfect love for him: Jesus.

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