1 "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry."
Psalm 40:1 (NIV)
In 1992, my mom and I were in line at McDonald’s in Bloomington, Indiana, when we spotted who we thought was Damon Bailey.
Damon Bailey was a folk hero in Indiana by the time he was 14 years old. Sportswriter, author and commentator John Feinstein said, “Bailey was a phenom in a basketball-crazed state.”
Former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight went to watch Bailey when he was in the eighth grade.
In the state championship game at the Hoosier Dome his senior year in high school, 41,000 people attended. Bailey led a comeback for the win. Feinstein said, “If ‘Hoosiers’ [the movie] hadn’t been made already, you could have made a movie out of that.”
Indianians were so enamored with Bailey that they handpicked grass out of his front yard. I was smitten too. I shot hoops pretending to be Damon Bailey curling around a screen or hitting a game-winner against Kentucky.
To understand Bailey’s disproportionate status, you have to know the context.
Basketball is central to Indiana’s identity. Indiana claims John Wooden, Larry Bird, Coach Knight and the five-time National Champion Hoosiers, particularly, the 1976 Hoosiers, the last men’s college basketball team to go undefeated.
Bailey brought national attention back to basketball in Indiana. He was the USA Today High School Player of the Year. At Indiana University, he was a four-year starter and an AP All-American in 1994.
Back to McDonald’s. Before we recognized who it was, I noticed his shoes. They were Bo Jackson cross trainers.
When we realized it was Damon Bailey, we asked him to confirm our suspicion, “Hi, are you Damon Bailey?”
Then he turned to us. We hurried to get a napkin for him to sign.
Being “turned to” is to be acknowledged and honored. It is to be heard. I would have been devastated if Damon Bailey had not turned to us.
Even more so, we would be devastated if God did not turn to us.
But God does turn to us. In Jesus, God shines His face on us and is gracious to us. In Jesus, God reconciles us to Himself and lifts us up. In Jesus, God makes eye contact with the human race.
Athlete, you have God’s ear. God has turned to you. Can you believe it? What are you going to say? What are you going to do?
Start by setting God apart and thanking Him for all He has done.