Finally! The most wonderful time of the year has arrived! No, I’m not referring to Christmas time or summer break… I’m talking about March Madness, Baby! I’ve been a college basketball fan my whole life, but until I moved to Kentucky almost 13 years ago, I had no idea.
It’s been said that the state religion of Kentucky is basketball and whoever coaches UK is the pope. The state animal is a wildcat, the state color is blue, and the state motto is “C-A-T-S! CATS! CATS! CATS! (my apologies to any Louisville fans out there…I’m just calling it like I see it here in The Commonwealth) 🙂 The support of UK basketball does not simply permeate the college campus and the televisions of men who like sports, but it seeps into every aspect of life here. The retired couples who faithfully travel to watch their team play even out-of-state games, the church ladies who regularly wear their team colors as part of their Sunday best, the kids who congregate around the neighborhood ball goal dreaming of one day being Mr. Kentucky Basketball… these are the folks who make up The Big Blue Nation.
As an adopted member of the BBN I wear my UK t-shirt with pride. As I walk through Wal-mart I get friendly nods from fellow fans, an older man strikes up a conversation about last night’s game, and the cashier stops ringing up items long enough to ask me where I got my shirt because she needs a new one. When I wear my blue & white I become part of something bigger than just a college basketball team. I become part of the Nation, a group united around the love of the game, the desire for another national championship, and a piece of Kentucky culture that is simply part of what it means to be from Kentucky.
The same thing happens when I find a fellow follower of Christ. There’s a connection that forms almost instantly, a bond that unites us, and a camaraderie that is unable to be explained except by the supernatural. We might be from different backgrounds, come from different places or serve in different roles, but when my path crosses with someone who loves God with all their heart, who is focused on heavenly things, and who lives their life completely sold out for Christ, I realize that our connection goes beyond the beginnings of a friendship. We are part of something so much bigger: the Family of God. No longer do we stand alone; no longer are we the only ones choosing Christ above all; no longer are we solitary supporters surrounded by the opposing team. We are united with one purpose, under one Person. What we have in common covers up our differences and knits our hearts together in a way that can only happen with brothers & sisters in Christ.
I enjoy being part of The Big Blue Nation, but even more so I’m glad to be a part of the family of God!