Last weekend the world suffered an incredible loss of talent. As Kobe Bryant’s helicopter lay smoldering at the foothills of the mountains, people gasped in disbelief and choked back tears. Social media and our television sets covered the headlines to report on the death of nine great lives. It will forever change the surviving families as the Lord anoints them with hope and peace.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10
A Facebook posting caught my attention about this tragedy, and it sparked me to write today’s message. The posting spoke of the horror Kobe must have felt in those last seconds when he recognized they would all die.
Death is the inevitable destiny of mankind. It’s not a pretty sight or an engaging act for those left behind to pick up the pieces. Most people never want to think about this unpleasant topic until faced with a funeral or a deadly illness. Yes, it’s scary to think only Jesus could conquer death as He rose from the dead. Our loved ones submit to their fate, and we are assured their body will never walk on this land again, unlike Jesus… yet the irony is incredibly sad.
I’m not sure of the other passenger’s backgrounds on the helicopter, but I know Kobe Bryant was an active Catholic. He attended mass and Holy Communion hours before the crash, at an Orange County church. Much of his tumultuous past was shaded in gray. Marital discord and loss of sponsorships plagued him for many years. But, just like of all of us, he had sins to conquer before the Lord. He knew only God could forgive him, so in 2003 he turned to the church for consolation and hope.
His love for the welfare of mankind surpassed all dignity. In December, he witnessed a horrible car crash in Newport Beach, California. Videos captured the moment he ran to the cars and pulled everyone to safety. He stayed by their side, speaking comforting words of love until paramedics arrived at the scene.
Kobe supported seven charities and fourteen causes. His dedication to children and their future was always at the front seat of his life. There is a lesson to be learned from Kobe about compassion and spreading God’s love!
Good practicing Christians should always be ready for their inevitable destiny. If I were a betting man, I’d place a wager Kobe prayed, like never before, in those last few seconds of his life. God heard his prayers because He, too, grieved the unjust execution of His Son, Jesus. He understands our pain. But, the Lord is rich in mercy, and He opened His arms to all those passengers on the helicopter.
Death is part of living – it is our fate set in stone by Adam and Eve. In my opinion, though, nothing is sadder than the death of an adult who never accepted Christ into their life before their mortality. As Jesus taught us, we are to confess our sins, pray for forgiveness, and never return to them. If we commit these deeds, we are assured of living with our Father in heaven. Christians should rejoice in knowing God has lovingly addressed our need for forgiveness. It clears the way for those we leave behind, and they can celebrate our eternal life with Christ.
Seek comfort in knowing God is the one in full control of our lives. He pre-planned our birth and death. Nothing and no one on earth can change our fate. It is futile to place blame for a person’s death because it was our destiny from the very beginning of life. Take solace in knowing physical death is just the start of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a good Christian’s life!
May the surviving families of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Payton and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan rest in peace in the arms of our Lord.
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