Hershey Hawkins

Guard, Seattle Sonics, 1988 College Basketball Player of the Year,
1991 NBA All-Star, 1998 Pacific Conference Sportsmanship Award

As an NBA rookie, there were times when I felt that everyone was pulling me in different directions. The coach wanted more practice time, my wife wanted me to talk to her more, my family needed more money, and my friends wanted me to “hang-out” with them more. At the same time, investors were calling, reporters wanted more interviews, and to top it all off, I was in the midst of my first slump as a professional ballplayer.

It was during this time that someone approached me about the claims of Christ. However, I felt that I didn’t have time for Christ. Two things were in the way of considering Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. First, my life was already overflowing with things to do, and Christianity seemed like just another thing to add to my busy life! Second, when I heard the gospel of Christ, I did not see how it related or could help me.

The answer to the first obstacle was found in a Bible verse that today is one of my favorites. Mark 8:36 asks the question, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Christ is not just another option among many. He is the only way to God. In John 14:6, Christ says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The answer to the second obstacle was not found quite as easily. God had to show me the value of the gospel over a period of three to four years, because I had always thought I was basically a good person with a good heart, and I had never cheated on my wife.

However, being good will not get us into heaven. I can best illustrate it this way: God blessed me with good shooting skills. I have consistently placed in the Top 10 in free throw percentage, usually shooting between 86 and 88 percent. That’s better than all but a few NBA players. So, if I compared myself with others, I rated very well. But I’m still not perfect.

In life, God says we have to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), and we have to keep all His laws (James 2:10). He is the standard, not others.

So, in God’s eyes, 88 or even 98 percent isn’t good enough. We all break God’s laws and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The result of this is serious; the Bible says in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” This is why we all need a savior. I had to admit that I am a sinner, and I had to ask God to forgive me and Christ to save me—and He did!

You too can have your sins forgiven. Pray, “Dear God, thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and the sacrifice He made by dying for our sins. Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. Change me and help me follow Your Word. Amen.”

Taken from Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine. Used by permission. For subscription information call 1-800-283-8333.