Call me crazy (which someone did alot last week), but LeBron James just keeps giving me THE BEST examples for teaching Bible lessons. For example, back when he left Cleveland, and his Cavalier Fathead went on sale for the amazingly low price of $12, both my husband and my son bought one. Why???? I have no idea why they both thought they needed one, but when I was asked to teach to a group of 5th-6th graders at our local church camp I was sure glad they did. I decided to invite the infamous fat-headed Mr James (no offense, LeBron, that could be said of all of us sometimes, I suppose) to make an appearance at camp with me. Rolling out our spare, we talked about how LeBron could, in fact, be a great example to us. . .kind of. . . .Victorious living was his goal, he left the land of his family, headed towards the promised land, didn’t look back and didn’t care if people thought he was crazy. Now for sure, the whole announcement show on ESPN wasn’t exactly the greatest example of humility or grace ever exhibited, but the case can still be made that if we would be willing to leave everything in our world to follow Christ, no matter what anyone else said, we would be experiencing some stuff otherwise out of our grasp.
Then I put LeBron back into his mailing carton, where he has been sitting until now. The time has come to get him out of the garage and dust him off, because he has done it again. LeBron has, without even knowing it, given me not one, but two object lessons to be used in a lesson somewhere, someday soon. (Maybe today!)
Last week while the NBA championships were going on I was at church camp with another great group of kids, so I missed it all–every game. And I have to admit being a midwestern girl, I was pretty much going for Oklahoma! This morning, before church was the first time I’d had the chance to see any of the post game interviews. And in those couple of minutes, God spoke to me. You see LeBron talked about last year’s loss, and how in leaving for the promised land (my words, not his), things didn’t work out quite like he had planned and how losing didn’t seem at all like any kind of promised greatness. But he said that the trial made him better. It humbled him, it made him less selfish and helped to learn to be a better team mate, it gave him focus, helped him see who he really was, and it matured him. Much like the book of James, chapter 1 which says,
“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
God speaks. . . a lesson in itself.
But then it was his shirt that really got me. “Earned Not Given.” I completely understand the shirt for LeBron and the Heat. They did earn their championship; they earned their ring, and it wasn’t always easy. There were critics and doubters and haters in droves. But this morning, as I was getting ready and I saw that shirt, I could’t help but say to my husband, “Man, I want my shirt to say just the opposite. ‘Given not earned.’” Because that’s how it is with Jesus. There is nothing I could do to earn what He has given to me.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
I want the crown on my shirt. Keep the ring on there, too. I have a share in those things which rightfully belong to the King of Kings. I get them, not because I’ve earned them, but because He has given them to me as a part of His Kingdom. Let’s just switch up the letters and give the glory to the One who deserves it. Then let’s live like the champions we are, and let’s start sharing what we’ve been given. What a major praisallujah that we can claim the victory, when he fought the battle. . . against haters and doubters and critics and death.
Some people will say that LeBron isn’t the best example to use to teach Biblical truth. Maybe they’re right. I honestly have no idea where his spiritual allegiances lie. But I do know that if we are willing to open our eyes and SEE, God can reveal Himself in some of the most unlikely places. . . .maybe that’s in the life choices of a basketball giant, or the simple choices of an ordinary small town housewife turned kidmin leader. Either way, I hope we take every opportunity to see Jesus in all that is around us.
How are you seeing Jesus speaking in your life these days?