I stared long and hard at this photo. I don’t know if it is the photo or the caption, or maybe just the blatant reality it carried, but it moved me deeply. Like most people, the death of Kobe Bryant, his young daughter and 7 other passengers stopped me in my tracks and I became glued to the TV with a lost gaze trying to comprehend what had just transpired on that hill. It was a horrific scene and it was surreal. The once beautiful and scenic Calabasas hills were covered with black smoke and bright red and orange flames. Those hills would never be the same. It is impossible to conceive that somewhere in that destruction, somewhere in those angry flames, were the remains of 9 people. In an instant, 9 lives were gone, and the sting of their demise, the ripple effect of their death would continue on the lives of those that were closest to them.
My youngest son was, and still is a basketball player and there was a time in his life where the game was his world. Like most basketball players, and probably most people, he took this tragedy extremely hard. He couldn’t figure out why he was so devastated and sad. He never met Kobe, never attended a Lakers game, he wasn’t even a fan of the team, so he struggled with why he was so emotional over this loss. For me, it was easy to understand why. For years, we welcomed him into our homes at least two to three times a week to watch him play. He grew-up watching this man, his moves, his work ethic, and dedication, and like many, my son admired him on many different levels, so the sense of loss was somewhat personal.
Although nine lives were lost that day, because one of them was Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, the tragedy was magnified, and the lost seemed to effect everyone. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s just the way it is, Kobe was a superstar. But here’s the thing, every one of those lives mattered and every one of those lives were significant because no life is insignificant or without purpose. Although here on earth, we often put value or a worth on people, God never does. For most people, the horror of that helicopter crash was because a legend was among the nine passengers, a man of amazing accomplishments who had left a trail of success throughout most of his life.
But the reality is, through the lens of God, Kobe Bryant was no more significant than any of those other nine passengers; the cross is the great equalizer of us all and puts us all on the same playing field. There is not one person more valued, significant, important or loved than another through the lens of God. And God’s value and love for people runs contrary to how people value and love one another. Whether we admit it or not, we often place significance and value on people based on talents, accomplishments, looks, intelligence, political views, athletic abilities and the list goes on. But those things are irrelevant to God, He is only concerned with the heart.
If taking your God-given gift and talent and using it to its fullest was what got people into heaven, then Kobe for sure will be at the right hand of God, but scripture tells us that isn’t how we enter into eternity. Scripture also tells us we don’t get there by being “good” people, and the sad reality is, a lot of good people just won’t be there. God is all about the heart of mankind, that is what he is after.
There is one guarantee in life and that is, we all have an end. Some will live a full and rich life, while others will find theirs cut short by sickness or tragedy but no matter what, this vapor called life, will pass. Whether you are a bible believing believer or not, the reality is, everyone of us will stand before the holy Audience of One, the creator of life, the one who died for our sins and He will examine our hearts.
Jesus tells us that we will be surprised who is and who isn’t in heaven and that is why we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
It has been three weeks since this amazing basketball star and man was taken out of this world, and while their family and closest friends are still trying to process the tragic loss, most of us have moved on. Life just keeps going, even if you are a superstar, it never stops. But in an instant, we too will pass from this life to the next to our final stop and the question for all of us is, where will your final destination be?
My prayer is that those 9 souls knew Jesus Christ and had a faith and understanding of what Jesus did on the cross for them. My prayer is that in an instant, they stood before the great Audience of One and He said welcome home.
Eternity is a reality for all of us, but where you spend it is your choice. Friend, make sure your heart is ready because in an instant, we will all stand before the Audience of One.