I was sitting at a local restaurant downtown, waiting on my food. I opened Facebook and started to scroll. That’s when I saw the headline: Kobe Bryant was dead. I turned to my brother-in-law, told him the news, and he said, “No he’s not?”
It wasn’t until he looked it up himself that it finally sank in.
Soon I saw a handful of cooks standing together, hunched over staring at a server’s phone. I could tell by their reactions they were reading the same news I had just seen, looks of bewilderment filling their eyes.
Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star esteemed as one of the greatest basketball players of his generation, died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also killed in the accident.
Sitting in that dimly lit deli, I was reminded just how fragile life is. It’s a vapor — here one instant, and vanished the next.
The former Los Angeles Lakers player was only 41 years old.
In James 4:13-14, it says, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here for a little while, then it’s gone.”
And Proverbs 27:1 tells us, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.”
Celebrities and athletes of all stripes were stunned by the news of Bryant’s death. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt tweeted, “Can’t be true. Just can’t be.” Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson wrote, “I can’t believe this is true.”
Even in our shock, Bryant’s tragic death is a salient reminder of just how short — and eternally important — our lives on earth really are.
We need to use our time wisely, as the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-17, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
As believers, we are to labor — not in hopes of earning God’s grace. Rather, we labor because of His grace toward us. Our lives should be lived as offerings to God.
When Jesus returns, we should “be proud that [we] did not run the race in vain and that [our] work was not unless.” Instead, we should find joy, even if we lose our lives, because our “faithful service is an offering to God” (Philippians 2:16-17).
Bryant was devoutly Catholic. And in a 2008 interview, he said life “is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged.”
“You have to keep moving,” he said. “You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling.”
Today, let Scripture as well as Bryant’s words be an inspiration to you.
Our lives are incredibly short. We should choose each day to put Jesus first — to set aside whatever it is that hinders us and “to run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Bryant and Gianna are survived by the NBA star’s wife Vanessa and their three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. Please continue to pray for his family as they grieve the loss of Bryant and Gianna.