the moody bump

I just returned from two encouraging days with the men of Moody Bible Institute—I’m not aware of another place which has as much rich tradition and present vitality—and I left with the distinct impression that the church is going to be all right.

After chapel this morning I was getting creamed in a game of six-square (like four square but with two additional squares), when a student told me that the Cleveland Cavaliers were practicing in Moody’s gym. I gave up my place in line and went to see, and sure enough, there was Shaq jaywalking across Wells Street looking for who knows what (probably his jump shot).

We were allowed to watch the shoot-a-round from above the court, and I saw Jamario Moon practicing his threes (Monday night was not a fluke), Antawn Jamison icing his knees and giving interviews, Anthony Parker practicing free throws (wish it had been Shaq), and Boobie Gibson standing around (no need to shoot when you’re not getting in).

I missed Lebron’s shoot-a-round but was told he was still inside the locker room, so I stood with about twenty Moody students between the gym and the bus and waited for him to come out. Mo Williams came first, singing about flying in a pitch that was too flat even for headphones. He didn’t make eye contact with any of us, and it occurred to me that these athletes wear headphones so they can safely ignore the fans who might call to them.

But this wasn’t a normal crowd. LeBron came last, looking smaller than I expected, perhaps because he was wearing Nike slipper/sandals and his muscles were covered with a sweatsuit. He was wearing the requisite headphones, but he looked over and did a double and third take at our humble line. Later it struck me that he seemed surprised. He probably is not used to walking past a line of well-behaved kids who, while poised with their cellphone cameras, were extremely respectful and not noticeably in awe of his greatness.

One student extended a hand and LeBron gave him a fist bump. If Moody represents God and LeBron is Cleveland’s Christ figure, then perhaps in that gracious moment LeBron was both acknowledging God’s curse on Cleveland and saying that a resurrection is on the way (see my earlier post on “resurrection” for why this is a terrible analogy). I’m still working on the theology of what I saw, and anyway, this entire post is merely a thinly veiled vehicle to let you know that I saw LeBron today. And Moody students are pretty cool, and lucky. Let’s go Cavs!






8 responses to “the moody bump”

  1. Knute Larson

    I was in the same gym playing when teaching at Moody recently, and you could have stopped to see us play. Because you are my favorite theologian, I would have stopped to talk with you; and I do not wear earphones. You missed it, Mike.

  2. Justin Prause

    If you remember, we were talking right before you played six-square about how it’d be cool if the Cavaliers were at Moody’s gym sometime. When I went up to my floor someone told me they were there and I had to laugh! It’s crazy just how fast your thought actually happened! Thanks for talking to me and I can’t wait to read your books!

  3. Joel

    I sometimes wonder if Cleveland was the original Garden of Eden. Not because of any innate beauty (I mean, c’mon), but because of the cursed nature of the place.

  4. Andrew Ford

    I love it when you talk about Moody that way. I’m no longer an NBA guy, but in the past while in their MAMin program, I was able to see big time coaches and rookies at a rookie camp held in the Solheim Center. Did you know that Moody’s gym is named after Karsten Solheim – the inventor of Ping Golf Clubs? Well, that’s enough Moody trivia now – I’m sure John and Brian will chime in on some GRTS trivia.

  5. mikewittmer


    I saw you and I apologize for leaving you out. I guess watching retired preaches brick threes doesn’t mean what it used to. That stuff still plays in GR, but not in LeBron’s home away from home.

  6. Chuck Lawrence

    Even though I am a Cedarvillite I must say I don’t care for any Ohio athletic teams but I do empathize and sympathize with ya’ll as a Lions fan…..but this IS the year.

  7. mikewittmer


    You know I respect you and how you keep my children healthy, but please don’t insult me with “I’m a Lions fan so I know how you feel.” No one but Cleveland fans have any idea. Funny story, in the updated version of Peterson’s “The Message,” God turns Job into a Cleveland fan.

  8. Chuck Lawrence

    Of course my dad was not a Cedarville alumni but his son was! =)

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