I don’t know if you have been following the story of Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks NBA basketball team (it’s been kinda hard to miss it!), but I have been fascinated by it, for a number of different reasons.
First, I love basketball, and although I don’t like the NBA all that much (except for the Bulls during the Michael Jordan years), sometimes I do watch it. I am more partial to college basketball, to the upsets and underdogs, to the great team that defeats a bunch of great players who are not a team (remember North Carolina State vs. Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma?). So I am particularly intrigued by the underdog who is succeeding against all odds (as in this play, where he outplays the player who was drafted number one in the year he entered the NBA, or this play when he hit the game winning shot last night).
Second, Jeremy Lin is a Christian who exhibits his faith in all he says and does. There have been a number of people who have claimed to know Christ in my lifetime, a significant percentage of whom have really not been an accurate or credible witness for him. Jeremy Lin is not like that. He quietly states what he believes and lives it out through his actions. Listen to his humility after he hit that game winning shot.
Third, he loves to play basketball! If you watch him, you can see it all over his face. He is enjoying his God-given ability to play this sport to the best of his ability and find great joy in it. Although Eric Liddell actually never said the words that he says in the movie Chariots of Fire, “when I play (run) I feel his pleasure” could be put in the mouth of Jeremy Lin, and would accurately describe God’s intention for each of us when we have truly found the vocation or recreation that fits with our God-given design.
Fourth, I think Owen Strachan, in his article on Jeremy Lin, hit the nail on the head.
I see in Lin an underdog who, though unlike me in many ways, is living my dreams. He is an athlete who was tagged, in many places and from many voices, as One Who Would Not Lead the Way. He is not supposed to be here. He should be doing what weekend warriors like me do, playing overheated pickup basketball in cheaply furnished athletic clubs that feature courts best suited to peewee leagues. He wasn’t recruited. He wasn’t drafted. He wasn’t wanted…
You don’t need to like sports to enjoy this story. You don’t need to dream about which zone defense to employ against a sharpshooter to identify with Lin. All you need to be is a normal person in this world. All you need to be is written off at some point in your life. If you’ve encountered prejudice, hardship, and injustice in some form, you can find some joy in this unlikely tale of unappreciated talent overcoming unjustly stacked odds. If you have had family members speak ill of your abilities, coworkers demean you as an employee, or people write you off as a thinker because you’re a Christian, well, Linsanity is for you, and you, and you.
God is for the insignificant one. God sees our struggles with being overlooked, unappreciated, left out. He cares. He cares when it’s not us, but our children who are gifted and worthy are not seen that way by others. He is the God of the small and the God of the future reversal, when those who trust him will be vindicated and will rejoice with him forever!
Enjoy this “Lin-sanity”, when a nobody defies the odds and the expectations in order to give us a small picture of the hope that we have that God will one day make all things new.