Jimi Hendrix was my first featured hero. As I was reading about him, I gravitated toward the story about him holding onto a broomstick in order to mimic playing the guitar as a type of "security blanket". The mom in me thought about him as a young kid and imagined the perseverance it must have taken to continue his pursuit of music. As I thought about perseverance, I was reminded of the first "memory verse" as a volunteer youth worker we learned. It was found in Romans 5.3.
Roman 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
While Jimi Hendrix was an accidental choice, John Wooden was a deliberate choice as I sought to find a person of character (the next part of that scripture). Although Wooden demonstrated admirable character traits, he was also a man of God; his faith is what gave him his strength and integrity. He was much more than the sum of his good qualities.
So what were the two words missing? They were love and opportunity. In the bible, Paul tells us in 1 Corin 13:13 that faith, hope and love are at the heart of a relationship with Jesus.
As I stood in that grocery store, I ignored my initial reaction of running up and telling that man he was a hero in my young son's eyes. I started to question whether it was the right person. I questioned whether he would think of me as a "nut". I questioned whether it would embarrass him. I quietly waited and thought "I will talk to him when he leaves the store". Twenty years had aged this man; his stance was clearly more hunched and his appearance fragile. Encouragement might have lifted his spirits but when I looked for him outside the store, he was gone.
Luckily, in another instance, I did not hesitate. Jenny had an exuberant spirit and a dance in her step. Her degree was in Physical Education. One day, she bounced into work with a predictable confidence and intentional energy. It was as if she had a special secret on life and wanted to share the map of success. She was orchestrating a dance party for kids and wanted me to come alongside her. Reluctant at first to look silly, I resisted but with a little nudging, I too was out on the dance floor. The Macarena and a Michael Jackson song, we danced and laughed until our stomachs ached.
To this day, I am so happy I didn't "over think" it but just enjoyed the moment. Only two weeks later, Jenny was killed in an automobile accident. Un-expectedly and quickly, she was gone. There was a "celebration of life" service for her at a local gym where people of all ages filled the room. The most inspirational part, however, was seeing young children talk about the impact she had on their lives. Normally shy and quiet, young people found doses of courage as they spoke of her willingness to see them as others never did.
As a final gesture, the entire audience was asked to stand and give Jenny a "standing ovation" for the life she lived and the monumental impact she had in her willingness to truly hear the voices and see the faces of people in need of inspiration and friendship. For me, I will remember her "childlike" laughter and dance.
So what does all of this have to do with a FB post about "still being a fan". The thing that really jumped out for me was this sense that the final game had not yet been played. Perseverance and a willingness to stay in the game is a faithful fan.
The final and most important part of the scripture from Romans 5:1-5 reads "and Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." He has poured out his love into our hearts! As I was finishing up this final post, the two words that came to mind were love and opportunity. We have countless opportunities to encourage and participate in the goodness of life. The one ingredient that cannot be defined in a list of character traits is that which is difficult to define. It is love.
I am most thankful the holy spirit has worked within me to write this blog. It not only forced me to learn about two people I knew very little about: Jimi Hendrix and John Wooden but it also allowed me to think through the opportunities - lost and taken along my path.
Rick Reilly, in his article in Sports Illustrated, demonstrates a powerful friendship he had with John Wooden. It encouraged me 1) in the depth of his friendship and 2) the depth of faith in John Wooden. To me, Wooden's life said the final game had not yet been played.
If your perspective is earth, then your season might end up to be a disappointing one; but if your perspective is heaven, then your season has barely begun.
Like the powerful arms of a trash truck, God lifts each of us up into His arms of grace. Will you accept it? Will you put your hope in things that fade? Or will you find your hope in your faith? It is your choice.
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.