Thoughts on Kobe

Like so many other people all across the world, I was stunned when I learned about the horrible crash of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other lives. Nine total lives were lost in the wreck and the ripples of this tragedy began to make their way literally throughout the whole world.

My own daughter texted a group of us to ask if we had heard. Sunday afternoon, relaxing after church & lunch, I began to search for news. Is it true? Can this be a real story? Hopefully this is just a bad case of misinformation. However, it didn’t take long to find that it was in fact true. Over the next hour, I watched news and details come in and my heart continued to sink.

The days that followed were difficult as close friends of Kobe began to share their reactions and memories of their time with Kobe. So many emotions shared by so many people who had been touched by his life in one way or another. There were many times when my eyes filled with tears as I watched and heard the pain others were experiencing.

The hardest emotional hit for me (a person obviously not friends with Kobe) was hearing his daughter was on the plane with him. I am a dad. I have a daughter. Seeing all the pics and videos of Kobe with his daughter just ripped at my heart. Knowing that his wife and three other daughters would be grieving and hurting so deeply was tough to think about.

So many athletes and people from the NBA, other sports as well, celebrities, public figures and random people who had interacted with Kobe in some way were sharing their thoughts and feelings. There was no shortage of proof that Kobe’s life had greatly impacted the lives of many people. Emotions were raw, heavy and real.

A beautiful part of it all was seeing just how many people bonded over their mutual respect and admiration of Kobe. His basketball prowess was one part, but the way he lived the rest of his life was celebrated to an even greater extent. Being a father and specifically a #girldad seemed to be one of Kobe’s most fulfilling roles.

Again, being a sports fan, a father and a #girldad had me often very emotional as I watched this all unfold. I truly felt for all those who were grieving and hurting so badly and I also felt some enjoyment seeing how much everyone seemingly cared about Kobe and his family.

However, being a person of faith, I couldn’t help wonder just how many people who were experiencing so much emotion over this loss of life actually had a grasp on what life after death means for us.

The truth is, all nine of those souls left this mortal world in an instant and found themselves in eternity. You might not believe in any kind of life after death, and I get that. Every person is free to believe what they will. But, I whole-heartedly believe in the Bible and the truths it contains. I believe that every human being will leave this earthly plane as their body ceases to live and either find an eternal reward or eternal suffering. I believe in a literal Heaven and hell as taught in the Bible.

The truth of the Gospel of Jesus is that he is the only way to heaven. He paid the debt for our sinfulness and secured for us an eternity in heaven with God. Our path, the only path, to an eternity in heaven is to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

“there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”  Acts 4:12

No matter how good a person is in his or her life, and no matter how well they are liked or loved, the bottom line concerning life after death is whether or not their faith has been put in Jesus. Salvation through Jesus Christ is based solely on the grace of God, not on anything we can accomplish ourselves.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”  Romans 5:8

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”  Ephesians 2:8-9

My prayer has been that Kobe, his daughter and the others left this physical world knowing Jesus as their Savior.

My other prayer is that this closeness many shared in grieving this tragedy will be used by God to bring many to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Times like these are great opportunities for God to work in the hearts of people. When we stare death in the face, we are reminded just how fragile life truly is, we are primed to consider our own mortality. May you consider your own life and what would be your final resting place if you entered eternity in the blink of an eye.

Are You Thirsty?

Being from Texas, you have the privilege, or challenge, of living through some notoriously hot and dry summers. In a matter of days, we will be in the throws of another such summer. Here summers begin as early as May and can linger well into October, and these kind of summers bring an usual set of challenges.

One such challenge is the incredible dryness and what it can do to a parcel of land, especially one that receives no extra help from sprinklers. Behind our church building there is a huge empty field where our children occasionally have games and activities. During summer, however, this field clearly shows the effects of the hot and dry climate. The normal cracks in the ground turn into giant crevices where it would might be possible to lose a small child. As these cracks grow and widen, I imagine that the earth is opening its mouth wider and wider, stretching, longing that it will catch even the smallest amount of moisture. Yet, it often sits there in dire need of water.

The sight reminds me of the lives of those who follow Christ. Oddly enough, these summer cracks in the ground correlate in vivid way for me. You see, Jesus calls himself the “fountain of living waters” in Jeremiah 2:13 and he is compared to water many times throughout Scripture. In fact, he said, “if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” in John 7:37. In another passage, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman and he said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus was compared to water, and specifically referred to himself as water? What exactly is so special about water that it would be tied to the Savior? It might be the fact that, as humans, we must have water to live. It is 100% necessary to sustain our very lives. When we go without water, even for a short period of time, our health quickly begins to deteriorate. We, simply cannot live without water!

“Water is a fundamental part of our lives. It is easy to forget how completely we depend on it. Human survival is dependent on water — water has been ranked by experts as second only to oxygen as essential for life. The average body is 55 to 75% water. Two-thirds of your body weight is water (40 or 50 quarts). A human embryo is more than 80% water. A newborn baby is 74% water. Everyday your body must replace 2 1/2 quarts of water. The water you drink literally becomes you!” (“How Important Is Water”, Dr. Feredon Batngei)

Seems clear that water is extremely important to our bodies. And, we can be assured that God knew exactly what he was doing when he likened his Son to water. He is the Living Water! Maybe we need to respond as the Samaritan woman did when Jesus spoke of this life-giving water. She said, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” May you and I both find our soul’s thirst quenched only in Him.