Mr. NBA and Kobe Bryant
I was on vacation when I ran into a professional basketball player. I didn't realize it initially. I just assumed that he was really tall and in good shape. However, when my mom and I saw him taking pictures with lots of strangers as we were heading to dinner one night, she said, "Oh, he must be a basketball player." I didn't think anything about it until a few nights later when God said to me, "Make sure you obey me". I thought, "Uhh, ohh," and then I said, "Yes, Lord. I will obey." I knew if God was saying that it meant He might put me in an awkward situation where I knew I HAD to obey him.
The last night of our trip, sure enough, there I was face-to-face with the NBA player again. I saw him a few times on our trip. Once I caught him spying my inside shots and lack of 3-pointers on the basketball court. Another time we were heading to dance lessons and he was going in the other direction. But, on this last night God told me to say, "Stay encouraged. The devil can't touch you." As I spoke the words, I saw him look at me with a grimacing look on his face as he mouthed the word, "What?" in disgust. I was caught completely off guard. Surely this man was approached by hundreds of fans all asking for autographs. But, here was God with a message and I was trying to relay it. I got up the courage and repeated what God told me to say, "Stay encouraged. God's got you and the devil can't touch you." I walked away in one direction and he went in the other.
Later, talking to my mom, she said, "You can only say what God says to say. It's for God to touch his heart. God might be calling him and God has to prepare him first." I was still in shock and stunned by his reaction. It wasn't that I felt like he was rejecting me, per se, but maybe it was because of the face he made about what I heard God said to say to him. Was it because I wasn't asking about his jump shot? Was it because I wasn't asking for his autograph? I didn't even say, "Oh hey, you're that player..." because I still didn't and still don't know who he is. It didn't matter. What mattered was that I obeyed God. More importantly, what God said to that NBA player is so significant now given the death of Kobe Bryant. And, then there's the rise of talented player Zion Williamson. But, we'll get to Zion shortly.
I don't believe the world is reeling ONLY from the news about a retired NBA player passing away. I think what's so shocking is the feeling that the rug was ripped out from under people because Kobe Bryant was so loved, admired and well-known. And, he was only 41 and one of his daughters died with him. For every player - professional or amateur, for every sports fan, for every man or woman, the question is, "If he was only 41, can this happen to me?" Kobe didn't die from drugs. He wasn't shot in a drive-by. There was no altercation the night before at the club. He was a successful and talented young man who retired during the prime of his life and was active in his community. He was also doing something he loved - coaching basketball.
What rocked the world about Kobe's sudden and tragic death is the anxiety and fear that it presents as people ask, "If it suddenly happened to him, does that mean it could suddenly happen to me?" It makes people feel like no place is safe despite all the precautions one puts in place. It's not a question of helicopter safety or the need for twin engine planes or always taking an Uber and only on sunny days and only with drivers who have 5-star ratings and air fresheners in their vehicles. The concern is that a life - or in this case several lives can be taken so young and so tragically - even when you're doing everything right. But, that's where having a game plan with God comes in.
You see, when you have God on your team and Jesus in your heart, you don't worry about the unexpected because we know there's eternal life to look forward to if you make Jesus your Lord and Savior. But, before getting into that, let's look at Zion Williamson's sudden rise after a career-threatening setback. We'll then discuss Kobe Bryant's legacy and how you can equip yourself to have that rock-solid game plan so you won't worry about - or fear the unexpected.
Don't let the setbacks or betrayals stop you. Don't even let what you "see" happening around you cause you to give up. Sometimes that sidelining incident or act of betrayal is all a part of God's plan. Count it all joy... When God closes a door or lets one close, know that something bigger and BETTER is on it's way!
We often post prayer cards and seed cards with the message, "Don't start the game without God on your team. He KNOWS the secret plays." And, while you might envision the Holy Spirit whispering in a player's ear, "Go up the middle. He's open!" or "Hit the three. You won't miss," the message goes much deeper. For any player on any level, having God on your team is important. You want to cultivate a relationship with God and have Jesus Christ in your heart. This will help you face life's obstacles head on. But, before discussing Kobe and Zion, let's discuss the Kirk Franklin incident.
A video is circulating on YouTube that shows a street preacher calling out Kirk Franklin. The young preacher spoke through a megaphone and said that Kirk Franklin wasn't walking in his calling and obeying the Bible. Kirk Franklin crossed the street to address the young man who went on to say that he saw Kirk Franklin at the BET Awards and Kirk Franklin never told the millions that were listening to confess their sins and turn to Jesus. Kirk Franklin said a few times in their exchanges that he only had three-minutes to speak but the street preacher was saying Kirk Franklin is responsible for all those that he didn't witness to - meaning millions of lives might not be saved because he didn't share the Prayer of Salvation.
While some might not agree with the street preacher judging Kirk Franklin, others might argue that every chance to share God and Jesus is an opportunity. It's not enough to create and share music that lifts people up. Young men and women need to know that without a relationship with Christ, they are lost. However, Jesus is the way and God always makes a path for us even through the hardest seasons in our lives. And, maybe that's what Zion Williamson needed to hear when he was scheduled to play in the NBA but hurt his ankle.