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What is a legend?

What is a legend? A legend: 1) a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.6) a collection of stories about an admirable person. 7) a person who is the center of such stories.

Yesterday, we went to bed with the news of the death of Kobe Bryant and eight other people. One of which was his 13-year-old daughter. Many of us were shocked and completely rocked. Some of us instantly went numb and clung to disbelief. It was like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, and (for me) Paul Walker all over again.

We were left to once again feel like a broken English lesson: “WHO?” “WHAT?” “When?” “Where?” “Why?” and “How?” We rinse, wash, and repeat those questions as we scroll through our social media feeds, or google for more information. Any information!

I confess I am not the biggest sports fan/fanatic. I am more prone to watch people watch sports than I am to watch the game. However, basketball was one sport that I enjoyed watching. I know teams but rarely pay attention to individual players. But, Kobe Bryant was a player that I rooted for. Just the other day in my office, I tossed something into the garbage can and said the ever famous “Kobe!” Do you know I for real made that shot too?! It was like saying his name as I made the shot gave me superpowers. But doing that made me think of growing up watching basketball with my two older brothers. The few times they extended grace to me and let me attempt to play the game with them and their friends. (Note: it was only a “few times” because they eventually realized it was against my life expectancy to allow me to keep trying play. Indeed, they were looking out for me). I smiled and had a good laugh at the memories. This fun skip down memory lane was Friday evening, January 24, 2020, at 5:45. I know the time because I was late clocking out of work due to a meeting going long. I clocked out right before making that shot.

Friday, I had a fun trip down memory lane for saying the name of a man I’d never met. But Friday, January 24, 2020, Kobe and his family were probably talking about the details of the trip they’d be taking over the weekend, reminding each other of appointments and class assignments for this week. His girls could hug him and hear his heartbeat. His wife could look into his eyes and marvel that he was hers, and she was his. He could smile at her, and she falls in love all over again like it was the first time he’d ever smiled at her.

That was Friday. Life was unfolding, and there was so much planned and anticipated for the future.

Today is Monday, and life is feeling surreal for a lot of us. I can not fathom how it feels for the Bryant family and the loved ones of the others in the crash.

As a Christian, these are moments in life that we can find ourselves dreading. Because what do we say? Aren’t we supposed to have words of encouragement? Of hope? Aren’t we supposed to be the light in the dark places? But what do we say when everything sounds like a cliche, even in our ears? What do we do when we don’t know the person that has died? When we don’t know the people closest to them?

The worst thing we can do is say “they’re in a better place” because if they had not accepted Christ as their savior, we know that is not the truth. We also know that it cheapens the weight of grace being given to those of us still alive.

These moments seem like the hardest time to try to share the Gospel because, again, if their loved one did not hear it and receive it, how does that help? Sadly for the one who died, it doesn’t. But it does help those who are still living.

These moments should wake Christians up out of our comfort zones to realize that life is short. We don’t know how long we have the people we’ve been doing life with.

Kobe Bryant’s daughter and the other child in the crash are a global example of how short life truly is.

Kobe is a legend of basketball. If saying his name as we made a shot from across the room faded over the last decade, it will surely see a revival. Anyone who has his jersey will undoubtedly pull it from their closest and sport it in tribute. This is how fans cope with a loss. I pray it will be a comfort to his family and loved ones to know that he touched the lives of so many people.

Christians, I pray that those of us affected by this tragedy are encouraged to take scripture seriously when it tells us to number our days (Psalm 90:12).

As we encounter people who are mourning and grieving these deaths, let us be prayerful and kind. Be prayerful of how to speak and minister to them. Be prayerful because God cares about the pain we feel. Let’s be kind and stop waiting for tomorrow to share the Gospel with the people we are around. Because the loss of our recent legend shows: tomorrow is not for everyone. But, again, let us be prayerful to be led by the Holy Spirit of when and how to share. Because it may be that we’re called to simply mourn for the moment, and not speak at all.

Scrap a piece of paper. Scrunch it up. Toss it. Swish all net. “Kobe!” The crowd goes wild!!!!

Scriptures to consider:

  1. Job 2:11

  2. Psalms 90

  3. Matthew 5:4

  4. Romans 12:15

  5. 2 Corinthians 6:2

  6. Philippians 4:4-9

  7. 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Songs to consider:

  1. Palm of Your Hand-Tribal

  2. It Is Well-Tori Kelly

  3. Hills and Valleys- Tauren Wells

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