I’ll be honest. I have no idea where this week’s ‘Points of Life’ is going to go. But the recent news of Lamar Odom’s health, has made me process a number of different emotions and writing is a beautiful outlet to work through those emotions.
If you don’t know who Lamar Odom is, you can find more information with a few clicks. My high school basketball team played against his nationally ranked team our junior years (I believe we both graduated in 1997).
From what I can remember, he was the top high school recruit in the country and my coach asked the tournament director at the Binghampton Holiday Shoot-out to schedule our team against his in the first round.
We were excited to see this guy up close and personal and he would not disappoint. My coach came from the Bobby Knight regime, and so when Odom stood next to him on the bench, during warm-ups, hoisting up 3’s (and making most of them), we loved it, and coach did not.
From a high school standpoint, he was LeBron James, a decade before LeBron James. Obviously LeBron has had a more accomplished career in the NBA, but Odom had that same kind of hype and talent and skill set as a junior in high school. In my limited ‘interaction’ (he and I weren’t on the court at the same time) with him, I was impressed. He handled himself in a humble manner and even my coach, who was once seething before the game, had good things to say to him after the game as we shook hands.
Why does this matter? Why is this my ‘Points of Life?’
Here’s what comes to mind for me. Lamar played for ‘Christ the King’ high school out of New York City. As a naïve kid that grew up in a Christian home, I assumed that meant everyone on the team, including Lamar, was a Christian. I wasn’t aware of AAU basketball and how that team had been pieced together with 3 or 4 Division I basketball players, etc.
And many times in life, I find we assume the same thing about people, based on the clothes they wear, their twitter activity, the family they grow up in, or the amount of times they attend church in a month.
Shame on me.
The Bible says ‘Do not judged, so that you won’t be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1, NASB). That’s a passage that is often quoted by both the folks in church and those outside the church walls. Both followers of Christ and those who deny God, really like this verse. Isn’t that fascinating? For the non-believers, it gives a freedom to do whatever they want, without a watchful eye.
For the believer, it does so much more. It frees us from being the judge of everybody. We no longer need to be the moral policeman. That’s God’s job right, and we all fail the test. This verse frees us to peel back the layers of people we don’t know, and really get to know them. It allows us to share an otherworldly love to a generation that is hurting, and searching for something to fill the void. I need to do a better job at this – at taking the time to really get to know people that are different from me.
I’m praying for Lamar Odom tonight. I’ve never had the chance to find out what really makes him tick, since he has spent 20 years in the limelight while I have enjoyed more than a decade in the Lima-light. Our paths haven’t crossed since that Christmas break in 1995. But I know God loves him. And that means it’s my job, to do the same.