April 22, 2009
Wednesday, 12:00 p.m.
Letter #81: Not Bad for a Non-Shooter!
Greetings! Whew! Yesterday’s crazy-hot temperatures (98° here!) apparently set high records throughout California. Keith came to my door to make sure I was going outside to watch him participate in the slam-dunk competition. I changed my mind about staying in and joined him outside.
I was called over to a small group just after exiting my building and found it to be composed of an all-white power group’s members. Yippee. I guess we all grew up only miles apart from each other, giving us the one thing we ever had in common and making me an unwitting “homeboy.” Double Yippee.
I answered their questions as politely as I could, making them laugh, and I tried as best as I could to “kick it with the fellas,” while bringing up my Best Friend. Well, I got through to one of the guys named “Beanie,” who seemed interested to talk with me.
We stepped away from the group, and he unloaded his sad story on me. His story was a classic example of how well the state raises children, since age 13, Beanie has been in and out of juvenile detention facilities and prison. Now at 49, he looks 60 and is serving three life sentences plus 22 years. As I’d mention God, he would make sure I knew how he felt—that there is no God: “Heaven and hell is what you make of life … this is my hell, that I chose because of my decisions” and “How could there be a God if children die?” etc.
Beanie was extremely antagonistic and angry about his perception of life, choosing now to just “exist” day to day until he dies. God gave me such a heart of compassion for him, and I just knew that the right moment to share Christ’s plan for salvation … wasn’t right then.
Instead, God granted me boldness to speak of evidences for Christ’s bodily resurrection, testify of God’s goodness and peace in my own life through Daddy’s fight with cancer over 15 years ago, and to just say “I understand” as Beanie brought up classic anti-God arguments. Now, I love a great argument—perhaps too much. I feel as if God’s equipped me to see it laid out precisely, mathematically. And, I especially love arguments when I already know the answers to everything the other side is going to bring up!
However, God didn’t give me the freedom to dismantle Beanie’s arguments but just to lend a listening ear and try to understand his perspective. As we parted, he told me “not to be a stranger” and be sure to talk to him again.
Thank you for praying for me—that I would “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15, NKJV). I’ve been asking God to lead me to guys who need Him!
Well, after talking with Beanie and finding that I’d completely missed the slam-dunk competition, I joined the top basketball players on the yard for the Three-Point Shooting Competition. (My fans and supporters will recall that I made fifth place in the Free-Throw Competition last year, but I’d missed the Three-Point Competition.) 🙂
Many of the yard’s morning crowd were gathered to watch as 32 guys took turns shooting a total of 10 three-point baskets: 2 each from five zones on the court. Two guys hit nothing, eight hit only 1; all were eliminated.
Next round, those who shot 3 or less were eliminated; I stayed in the top 10! Next round, I was one of only two who shot 4 baskets, and after a shoot-out to see who would challenge us in the top three, a guy named Joe made it.
The other guy went first—missing every shot. Joe made 4. I missed my first 6, made the next, missed the next shot, ending my run at second place. I immediately ran over to Joe and shook his hand, as I heard from the crowd (someone yelled): “Great sportsmanship! See that? That’s what Jesus would do!”
Not bad for a non-shooter who is just trying to set a Christlike example! Praise Him!