As the 2018 National Basketball Association kicked off their season in Boston this week, I am reminded of a tragedy from the past. Len Bias was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, selected by the Boston Celtics. This former all American who played at the University of Maryland was primed for greatness. Yet, during a post draft party, Len decided to try Cocaine, apparently for the first time. This fateful decision induced cardiac arrhythmia resulting in Bias’ death two days later.
“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.
I was about to start my senior year of high school when I first heard of Len Bias’ death. Growing up ninety minutes from College Park, Maryland, this news was devastating. To make matters worse, I lost one of my best friends to cancer during my sophomore year of college. When my grand father passed away, it was tough to deal with, but at least he lived a full life. However, when a young person, who hasn’t entered the prime of their life is taken away by death, this reality is hard to accept. Unfortunately, human beings don’t have nine lives like cats who seem to escape death on numerous occasions.
But if your heart turns away and you will not hear and obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you will certainly perish. You will not live long in the land which you cross the Jordan to enter and possess, Deuteronomy 30:17-18.
During his farewell address as leader of Israel, Moses pours out his heart to his followers. In the middle of his speech, Moses urges the crowd to be careful to make wise decisions. According to the passage above, each choice you make on earth leads to one of two destinations: life or death. Since you only get one life to live, choose life. This isn’t a video game where you get to hit a reset button to receive a new life. Rather, actions have consequences, especially when poor choices are made. Therefore, may the words of Moses speak to your heart as you seek to make the most of the life God has given you.
by Jay Mankus