What I’m Learning From Kobe Bryant, Part 1

John Ed and Ken Ulmer
John Ed and Ken Ulmer


Part 2

I loved watching Kobe Bryant play basketball on TV. I remember seeing the first game he played in the NBA when he was only 18 years old. I remember his last game when he put up 60 points on the Spurs. Magic Johnson said, “He is the greatest Laker who ever played.”

He died tragically in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26th, along with eight other people. I’ve been reflecting a lot about him. A good legacy is found in lessons learned. I’ve been thinking about some lessons we all could learn from him.

Lesson #1: The uncertainty of life. Kobe Bryant was only 41 years old. He was investing in the lives of other young people and embarking on a new phase of life.

Last week, I was with Bishop Ken Ulmer, a member of the leadership team of the Billion Soul Initiative. His church bought The Forum, the 17,500 seat basketball arena, about 20 years ago. The Lakers played their last game in The Forum in 1999. I knew he knew Kobe Bryant.

Ken has a lot of high-profile people in his church in Los Angeles. He told me that on Sunday morning, January 26th, Kobe had texted a young man in his church. Kobe told him that he would see him Sunday afternoon. The young man slept in Sunday morning and didn’t see the text. When he woke up, he saw the news of Kobe’s death, then looked at his phone and saw the text. Length of life is so uncertain!

Len Evans grew up in Frazer UMC. I coached him in youth sports. He went into youth ministry and served in several churches in the Midwest, then a couple of years ago, he came back to Montgomery. He was serving four Methodist churches south of Montgomery. Last month, he invited me to preach at a combined service of his churches on March 29, 2020.

Sunday, when Len read about Kobe’s death, he put a touching message on Facebook about the importance of doing things while we’re still alive – we never know how long we will live. He encouraged everyone to call, write or visit a friend and tell them how much they mean to them. He then went to sleep Sunday night and didn’t wake up Monday morning. Length of life is so uncertain!

The important thing is that we are ready for eternity. James describes life as a “vapor” on a window. (James 4:14) It’s brief. Eternity is forever, and ever, and ever. The Bible is clear about God’s promise that those who believe and abide in Him have eternal life! (I John 2:25) When we are committed to Him, our lifespan is not that important!

I am exactly twice as old as Kobe Bryant and a generation older than Len Evans. I’m learning the lesson of the importance of making every day count. Next week, I’ll share more lessons.

What will your day be like today?

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