Kobe: Redemption, Purpose

Posted: January 28, 2020 in Meditations


“No man has the power over the wind to contain it; so no one has the power over the day of his death.”   Ecclesiastes 8:8

Sunday, January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, nine dead, no survivors. A text, moments before our annual church business meeting, broke the news, my heart froze. I looked around, nobody knew, but I did. I silently prayed for the victims’ families. “No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning.”  Ecclesiastes 8:17  I shuddered at images of unimaginable grief and all I could say was, “Holy Spirit, love them. Angels of heaven, gather round them. Family and friends, hold them.”

The world grieved. The internet exploded with condolences and tributes. Tragedy has a peculiar way with our hearts and minds when it visits our immortals. Time freezes, every nuance of our surroundings in that moment forever etched in our memory. My mind wanders to the second floor hallway at Roosevelt Elementary School. I was in the fourth grade, November 22, 1963. Jimmy Wojahn went home for lunch that day and as soon as he saw me he said, “President Kennedy got shot.” Within the hour, Principal Bremburger announced, “President Kennedy is dead.”  Most of us live life like we are never going to die. Alan Alda once joked, “I know I’m going to die, just not in my lifetime.” At 41 years old, Kobe reigned at the peak of his powers. An icon on the court, Kobe now plied his genius to a multi billion dollar business empire. Great parents, four daughters and a beautiful wife graced his life. Future horizons shined bright. No fear, no limits: who dared to doubt Kobe’s will to win? And now he is gone. If death snatched the great Kobe Bryant, what of us?

” ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ ”  Ecclesiastes 1:2

Kobe, at the age of 25, ruled the basketball world. The athleticism, the work ethic, the will to win, the thirst to dominate: Kobe Bryant stood upon an Olympus of his own making. Only Kobe can speak to his heart at the moment secret sin exploded upon a very public world. The consequences of sin detonated everything Kobe held sacred. In that moment, Kobe faced the loss of integrity, the loss of his marriage. He stood alone, scared out of his mind, 25 years in prison as a sex offender loomed as a real threat. By his own admission, he had walked away from God. In desperation, he now ran to the cross. He never looked back. With God’s help, he rebuilt his relationships, reconciled with his wife. Kobe opened his heart, his time, and his pocketbook to the service of others. He found favor in the eyes of God.

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  Ecclesiastes 12;13

Life is meaningless without God. That is the message of Ecclesiastes. Kobe’s death rocked all of our worlds. He lived life with an intensity few of us will ever know. And now he is gone, but we live. How will we respond to life on this day, in this moment? Have you fallen asleep at the wheel of life? Have you forgotten the God who created you, who loves you, who desires relationship with you? Jesus said to John in a vision, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Revelation 3:20  Kobe Bryant confessed his sin in the darkest hour and found redemption. “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.”  Ecclesiastes 5:15

sky sunset person silhouette

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There are no second class citizens in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus extends his hand, “Come.” He offers redemption. Be bold, do the right thing. In the end, Christ is all that matters.

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