The chances of filling out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Even if you factor in historical trends, regional advantages, and seed match-ups (a 16 seed has never beaten a number 1 seed, for example) your odds only improve to a meager 1 in 128 billion. These are the ridiculous truths that make March... well, madness. This is why my wife, who picks her bracket based on uniform colors, will have roughly the same amount of success as the experts on ESPN. There are simply too many possible outcomes, too many variables and too many factors beyond anyone’s control to account for accurately.
There is something humbling about an event where the world’s foremost experts – people who make their living by studying the intricacies of college basketball – are in relatively the same boat as novices who have never even seen a college basketball game.
This is the reality we live in. Our professions, families, even our callings, operate in a fallen, sinful world. Perfection (on any scale) is a statistical impossibility. This is what it means to be human, to be finite. Because of this, producing, performing, and grinding away to attain perfection is not dedicated, zealous and faithful work. It’s actually blind arrogance.
It’s a mindset that assumes you have the power, energy and expertise to crack a 1 in 9.2 quintillion-sized problem. Who, exactly, do you think you are?
This is why God commands (not suggests) a Sabbath. It’s His way of saying that even if you didn’t need food, sleep or help and you actually could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... you still couldn’t achieve perfection.
This is the foundation of our religion. Every other religion says, “this is what you must do to reach God.” But Christianity says, “this is what God did to reach you.” We are the only religion that says you are not saved by your work, you are not saved by your effort; you are saved by Jesus’ work, by Jesus’ effort.
Our infinite God took on finite flesh in order to achieve a standard we continually miss. Straining for perfection or atonement or recognition screams, “that’s not true, I can do it! I’m good enough to defy those odds!”
So take a day off, turn off your phone, go for a walk. The most spiritual thing you can do this week might be taking a nap. The Kingdom will advance because the King is on his throne – not because you’re at your post.
This March, may your actions reflect that you believe you are saved by grace and not by work. May your heart rest in God’s generosity and sovereignty and not be hardened by your own achievement and effort. Your bracket isn’t going to be perfect anyway.
“And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness...” Romans 4:5