Heaven Notices

It’s been almost four months since Kobe Bryant died in the tragic helicopter accident that shocked and shook our country and was felt in other parts of the world as well. No doubt that this aviation tragedy made the news and stayed in our collective conscience and conversations largely because Kobe Bryant was a basketball icon. Bryant’s accomplishments included 5 NBA titles, 15 All-NBA team selections, 12 All-Defensive team selections, he led the league in scoring twice, made the All-Star team 18 times and was voted MVP of the game 4 times. He was the NBA finals MVP twice and was named the regular season MVP once. He scored 81 in a single game, second highest only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game, and in his last game before retiring he scored 60 points at the age of 34. Bryant was the player whose style of play most closely resembled the G.O.A.T. – Michael Jordan, with whom he shared a friendship and mentoring relationship. Bryant was 41 when he died with his daughter and seven others, leaving behind his wife and 3 other children.

This week I read of another aviation tragedy. A young woman named Joyce Lin recently died in a plane crash. She was only 40 years old and had been serving as a missionary pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) for 2 years. The plane she was piloting crashed into Lake Sentani in Papua Indonesia shortly after delivering COVID-19 rapid test kits to a remote village in the Papua highlands. Lin’s accomplishments included earning Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees from MIT. She also earned a Masters of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. MAF pilots transport medicine, doctors, disaster relief supplies, evangelists, bible translators, food supplies, agriculture, and other things to remote areas of the world to share the love of Christ. According to Lin’s friend, she was passionate about her calling to serve other’s vital needs through flying. Lin was alone on this mission when her plane went down.

There’s an account recorded in Mark 12:41-44, where Jesus was people watching near the temple. He noticed many wealthy people putting in large amounts of money. But it was a poor widow who put in two small copper coins that caught His attention. Jesus got so excited He called His disciples to come around Him because He wanted them to understand that she had given more than all the rest because she had given all she had. No one else paid much attention to her but Jesus noticed!

As I read the article about Lin’s death, I was struck by the contrast that these two tragedies elicit in the public consciousness. Bryant’s passing made headline news and still remains a topic of reporting and conversations. Lin’s passing is just a blip in a Christian publication read by a few thousand people and remembered by far less.  The point is not that the public should stop being captivated by the death of a well-known and admired athlete. Nor is it that we should give more ink to faithful, yet obscure servants of Christ. The point is that heaven notices. Lin’s commitment to serving her Lord with all that she had gets all of heaven stirred up for the ‘well done’ party in her honor. There may be relative silence on earth but heaven is roaring over her life that brought glory to her Lord. As a basketball fan, I’m saddened by Bryant’s death. As a Christ-follower, I’m inspired by Lin’s life.