Lin makes most of opportunity

By February 13, 2012 Sports In Focus

“Players don’t usually come out of nowhere,” Kobe Bryant said after Lin helped New York snap a nine-game losing streak to Los Angeles that dated to February 2007. “If you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. But no one ever noticed.”

Jeremy Lin has made believers of once-skeptical teammates and coaches.

During the winning streak, with Lin starting the last three games, he has shot 57.5%. He has scored 114 points (28.5 per game) with 32 assists, 15 rebounds and seven steals.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is at a loss to explain the exploits of his sudden star, saying it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

“It is not often that a guy is going to play four games, the best you are going to see, and nobody knows who he is,” D’Antoni said.

Lin outplayed Bryant in drilling 13 of 23 field goal attempts Friday, including 2 of 4 from three-point range, with seven assists and four rebounds. Bryant closed with 34 points, hitting only 11 of 29 from the floor. He was 1 of 5 from beyond the arc with 10 rebounds and one assist.

“It is a great story,” Bryant said. “It is a testament to perseverance and hard work. It is a good example to kids everywhere. I am sure he has put in a great deal of work to always have that belief in himself. Now, he has the opportunity to show it.”

Lin emphasizes that opportunity is everything. “I wouldn’t say Golden State wasn’t suitable for me,” he said. “I think I have grown as a player. In terms of personnel, there is more opportunity here.”

I would agree with Lin that opportunity is everything in sports. That’s also true in our spiritual lives as well. The Apostle Paul taught this in Ephesians 5:16, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (NLT). The King James Bible says, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil.”

It is common not to finish what we begin. Dreams never become reality and hopes never materialize for many athletes because they never get beyond the first few steps. Jeremy Lin understands this better than most athletes.

Lin had no idea that he would ever play in the NBA. As a 5-foot-3 high school freshman, he knew he had to make the most of every opportunity. While growing a foot taller has helped him reach the NBA, it was when he became a Christian while in high school that he began to make the most of his opportunities. He said, “Slowly, God revealed more to me. I started learning how to trust in Him, not to focus so much on whether I win or lose but to have faith that God has a perfect plan. For me to put more of an emphasis on my attitude and the way that I play, rather than my stats or whether we win a championship. I learned more about a godly work ethic and a godly attitude, in terms of being humble, putting others above yourself, being respectful to refs and opponents. There are really so many ways you can apply your faith to basketball.”

Toward the end of his high school career and the beginning of his college career, Lin took further steps to make the most of his opportunities to glorify the Lord. He said, “Then, Christianity became a more significant part of my approach to basketball. That’s when I began to learn what it means to play for the glory of God.”

The glory of God is the most powerful agent of transformation available to mankind. While the glory of God is found throughout all of Creation, it is also revealed in the Bible as the gospel. That’s the reason that the gospel is described in Scripture as “the gospel of the glory of Christ” and “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The gospel serves as the means by which God daily builds us into what He wants us to be and also serves as the channel through which He gives us our inheritance every day of our Christian life.  The gospel contains all that we need for life and godliness.

The Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian believers to make the most of their time. Aside from purposeful disobedience of God’s Word, the most spiritually foolish thing a Christian can do is to waste time and opportunity. Don’t waste your opportunities in sports by half-hearted service for the Lord. Rather, give all you have mentally, physically and emotionally for the Lord as Paul also teaches in Colossians 3:23.

Discussion

1. What stood out to you in this article?

2. Discuss the following statement about the Gospel. What do you agree or disagree with?

“That the one and only one God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. However, we have sinned and cut ourselves off from him. Because of God’s love for us, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross. He fulfilled the law himself by taking on the punishment we deserved for the sins of all those who ever turn to and trust him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. Now, God calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.” —Gordon Thiessen, Called to Coach

3. What type of athletic opportunities have you been given this season? Have you always made the most of them? Why or why not?

4. What type of spiritual opportunities have you been given this season? Have you always made the most of them? Why or why not?

5. Read Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than men.” How does this verse help you better understand how to compete as a Christian athlete?

6. What does it mean to have a “godly work ethic” and “godly attitude” in sports?

7. As Christians we can achieve our potential in His service only as we maximize the time God has given us. What are some ways you can begin to max out for Him?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gordon Thiessen has served on staff with the Nebraska FCA since 1986. Currently, he is the Director or Training and Resources for the Nebraska FCA. He has a weekly blog, Sports In Focus. You can subscribe to the podcast at itunes and the blog here.He has also founded Cross Training Publishing (www.crosstrainingpublishing.com). He co-authored Team Studies on Character, Called to Coach and edited The Athletes Topical Bible. He is married to Terri and has four grown children. You can find out more information about the Nebraska FCA at www.nebraskafca.org.

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