Monday, July 12, 2021

When God Says "No"

Continuing my series of reflections on my retirement (don't like that word but I'll use it here) and 44-year career, I'd like you to meet Howard Lyon.

Yearbook pic.

He was the head basketball coach at Biola when I arrived there in 1971. By the time I graduated from high school I had played tons of basketball and volleyball in the islands. I wanted to continue to be active in sports when I got to California and so I tried out for the basketball team. During that time, Biola was famous for its stellar varsity and junior varsity teams. Coach Lyon was the winningest coach the school had ever had. I began to realize it would be tough convincing him I belonged on the team. I was a much better surfer than I was a basketball player. But that didn't keep me from trying out. My plan was twofold: major in Biblical Studies, and play sports.

"But God ..."

You can probably already guess what happened. God had other plans for my life. I think he knew me well, even better than I knew myself. He knew my Type A personally. He knew I couldn't do anything unless I gave it 1,000 percent. And he knew I couldn't be BOTH a student AND an athlete. I needed to make a choice.

Actually, that choice was made for me when Coach Lyon announced that I hadn't made the team. Disappointed? At the time, yes. But looking back, I now see it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Paul said, "We are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." In 1971, I was a diamond in the rough and God was the master jeweler. He began his work in my life -- shaping, cutting, grinding, and polishing until he had prepared me for the work he had called me to.

Friend, is he doing the same thing in your life? The grinding process is seldom a pleasant one. So we must be patient -- with God and with ourselves. Cutting and shaping take time. But God will complete the job.

My roommate and I in 1971. I am wearing my Rick Warren power aloha shirt.

P.S. I was able to use my basketball skills after all. For my "Christian Service Assignment" (required of all Biola students), I went to South Central Los Angeles every Saturday and played pickup basketball with the locals.

During "half time" I would share with them the love of Jesus. I'd give anything to find out where these guys are today and what they're doing.