Flowers for Kobe’s Birthday

Hello Baysiders! Hope all is well in your souls. Is it me or does time go by faster and faster as you get older? Schools back in session, vacation days are used, new TV shows are on break and beach days are over. It felt like summer just started a weekend ago and now it’s over.

August 23rd is one of my hero’s birthdays, Kobe Bryant. Now I know many of you don’t have any affiliation or interest with him but I do believe his birthday can remind us that life is a precious gift to be opened and cherished. In fact, Kobe changed his number from 8 to 24 for this exact truth. He shared in an interview that his name change was symbolic of the time he has and was inspired by the the Latin aphorism, Carpe diem, which means “seize the day.”

Today would’ve been his 44th birthday. Kobe tragically passed away, along with eight other people, in a freak helicopter accident in January of 2020. It was the crash that shook not only the sports world but also the rest of the world. Kobe was known beyond America and crossed over to the arts, the education and business world. He was an author, olympic gold medalist, Oscar winner, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and story teller. Basketball was merely the tip of iceberg. Kobe was as Michael Jackson sang, “a comet, blazing ‘cross the evening sky, gone too soon. Like a rainbow, fading in the twinkling of an eye, gone too soon.”

His unfortunate passing makes me want to appreciate life even more. Regardless of being a fan of Kobe or not having any connection to him, his sudden death acts as a parable for us. Kobe’s quick short life, due to the awful accident, is not an anomaly. By the clock of eternity, we all have sudden deaths. From God’s perspective we all are here today gone tomorrow, whether we live to be eighty-nine years old or only reaching age nine. Now of course living up in our nineties is a long life, which is a great thing, and we all naturally aspire to live that long but even that length of age is still a super tiny speck to God’s eternal timetable. We mortals are mere subtle currents in the endless crashing waves of the sea. For some of us, we think we have a surplus of time to dispose because of our young age. For others we know exactly how little time we have but the problem is we have so much to do we don’t know how to prioritize the cares of this life. Crunched on time, we end up neglecting life’s blessings indirectly from trying to do everything and that leads to a massive existential headache. But what Kobe teaches us is life, no matter what age, is ephemeral, curt, and sudden. The Bible says so, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone,” James 4:14. Did you catch that? We are like the morning fog that dissipates when the sun comes up. Well that’s depressing. Another verse says we are grass that easily gets cut and like a flower that quickly blooms and dies (Psalm 103:15). The good news is we are like a beautiful flower; the bad news is we fade away as soon as we show off our pretty petals. Don’t you love how the Bible keeps it real and avoids sugar coating the harsh realities of our existence?

So from Kobe, scripture, and frankly just by noticing our birthdays speed past us every year, let’s gain wisdom to open the gift of life that God has given us and cherish it to the fullest. How do we do that?

We love recklessly! We love without a receipt. We love when it hurts. We love when tired. We love to whatever maximizes the most joy. We love no matter what time it is because a Christian goes by eternity’s timezone. We open the gift of love by not discriminating our love to others and instead give our love to the people that don’t deserve it. We go the extra mile so that love can be felt. We turn the other cheek so that love can be our weapon to take down wrongdoing. We freely give to those in need, strangers or to the siblings who take our clothes without asking, so that love is made unconditional and not a quid pro quo. We love by giving God our hearts to take on our worry load. Faith is another word for love because we show God we trust him. This is the wisdom Jesus tells us about living this difficult life of responsibility and sustainability. Jesus literally tells us in Matthew 6:27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Worrying actually subtracts the gift of life and makes you lose time because you attend to the things that don’t matter and end up losing on moments to open God’s blessings. Why waste time on things that keep you away from the gift of life? Life is too short to get caught up in things that are out of your hands, life is too precious to be preoccupied by things that steal your joy, life is too much as a gift to not have the attitude like its Christmas morning every day as you murder the wrapping paper opening presents under the tree. Reckless love makes us focus on what is actually vital in life without distraction and makes us not care about who will judge us for doing so.

Parabolically, we live life to the fullest when we realize life is like Kobe’s; it’s what makes life so valuable and not meaningless. God considers everyone’s life is essential no matter the length. It’s so essential that God leaves his eternal realm and enters in our time dimension, coming as a human and experiencing the gift of life, and becoming a gift on the cross so we can have eternal life. Jesus came to save us from time’s destructive power, which is everlasting separation from God. This means love is spelled T.I.M.E. God is not afraid of our brief physical existence because he knows time goes on into eternity, becoming one just as Jesus and God are one; the temporal and eternal are married forever. This means the past is forever the present and the future is always now, according to God’s clock. Time is never gone when it’s coupled up with eternal love. This means nostalgia doesn’t have to be crippling because all of time is one place in the kingdom of God and Jesus has already told us it’s arrived and how to live on earth as it is in heaven. Nostalgia is time travel according to the physics of eternity. This is the outlook we can have and where we are fully heading towards. Understanding the marriage of time and eternity grants us courage and zeal to seize the day, squeezing out of ourselves the juice to make sweet lemonade for God’s glory. The life of Jesus tells us time is eternity’s love language and it’s not lost no more than a current is lost in the ocean. Jesus is time from eternity and he takes us back with him so that love remains forever.

So bloom. Even though it might be a short spectacle. Grow. Burst. Attract bees to pollinate. Ignore the gloomy days. Don’t hold back your petals. Because for Jesus, you are the lovely flower he planted that blooms in his beautiful garden and he thinks you are worth every second.

Grace and peace,

Pastor (:^)