Last Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant made the last two free throws of his career seconds before the buzzer rang, walking away with a 60-point game, and left me awestruck.
I looked at the crowd that had formed at Applebee’s full of fans sporting 24 on the backs of their jerseys.
I could feel the energy rising as Bryant sunk shot after shot, each basket calling for hearty cheers and standing ovations. Finally, a moment of silence was taken as the Mamba walked off the Staples Center court for the very last time.
I can’t say that I have much in common with Mr. 81 (the amount of points Bryant scored in a 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors). I don’t think that I would have ever touched a basketball in my life if it weren’t for middle school gym class. I even tripped over an orange and black striped ball once upon a time, in an attempt to continue my illustrious clumsy career.
But when the final buzzer rang, signaling the end of Bryant’s 20-year professional basketball career, I saw something familiar. A look of utter contentment beamed from his face and tears formed in his eyes as Bryant gave one last sweeping wave to the audience.
I saw the face of joy, unbelief and overwhelming emotion at the end of a star’s era. More than his showers of three pointers and slam dunks, I could relate to his feeling of elation at the end of a meaningful season.
Though the rest of us may not be facing the end of an electric career such as Bryant’s, we will soon be facing the end of the 2015-2016 term. Though this season of our lives can be marked by celebration and expectant hope for the future, the question still burns in the back of my mind: what happens after the confetti is swept away?
Uncertainty creeps into my thoughts. It’s quite scary, especially when we are approaching the unknown that is ahead of us after the end of this semester.
A lot of things can be up in the air, whether it be summer opportunities or trying to determine what next year holds, whether you stay with your roommates or leave APU as a transfer or graduate, or even if you’re debating whether or not you could watch an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and still finish your essay in time for class tomorrow.
There are decisions to be made, and it can seem overwhelming when life sometimes forces them upon us.
There are moments in my life where I feel as if there’s no answer, and this season is no exception. But upon further reflection of this semester, I realize how truly just God is.
Sure, there are many moments where we may feel inadequate, especially toward the end of the semester where finals seem to consume our sanity. But I am uplifted by the beauty of the process. This season of my life in particular, I’m learning what it means to trust fully in God, allowing Him to wreck me, shift my plans, and stay open to Him more than ever before.
On March 14, Pastor Brenda Bertrand gave a sermon in chapel about Abraham’s faith journey. God entrusted Abraham with the gift of Isaac, but on Mount Moriah He demanded the gift back. I cringed at this part of the story. How many times do I unconsciously subscribe to the prosperity gospel, and only sense God’s presence when I feel I am surrounded by His gifts? But God used that moment to fix Abraham’s gaze on Him: the Giver of gifts.
Uncertainty isn’t pretty most of the time. I can’t say that there is a magic 12-step program that cures us of it. But I do know that there’s something to be learned from trusting in God and His plans to prosper us, no matter how unclear our circumstances seem.
“When I go to sleep tonight, I’m just gonna thank God for this beautiful opportunity,” Bryant said in his exit interview.
When the crowds deafen, the cheering stops and the confetti canons clear, walk off the court with confidence in the One who gave the gift of the game and has an endless supply of gifts to give.