"Happiness is not joy. In trials happiness leaves us, but joy is of the spirit."
At the tender age of 11, Meadowlark Lemon heard about the Harlem Globetrotters and a passion for their ministry was kindled in his heart. Taking a wire hanger, an onion sack, and empty milk carton, Lemon started practicing what would someday become a globally renown half-court hook shot. Combining his impressive basketball skills with slapstick comedy, families from miles around would come to see the "Clown Prince of Basketball" play.
Joining the Globetrotters in 1955, Lemon has played for a wide range of audiences, from commonfolk to kings, queens, popes, and presidents in over a hundred countries. He is noted as one of the most famous basketball players in history. Some might even say he is more well known than Michael Jordan. Lemon has made appearances on 'The Today Show," "Good Morning America," and in commercials for Pepsi Cola, Yellow Pages, and Burger King. In 2000, he received the NBA lifetime achievement award and in 2003 was inducted into the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame. During his lifetime, Lemon has played over 17,000 games and still continues to play today. He is a father to 10 children, grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and great grandfather to 4 great-grandchildren.
Yet despite all of these accomplishments, Lemon is a humble man.
As a minister of the gospel he loves so well, Lemon has used his basketball talent to share the joy that God has brought to his life with millions of people around the world. This last Tuesday at Multnomah, we had the privilege of hearing him speak in chapel. Realizing he was 78 years old, I was greatly moved by the passion I saw burning so brightly within him. For a lifetime, he had driven himself to perfect his skill and has never wavered in his desire to share the joy of Jesus Christ to millions of people all over the world. To this day, Lemon seeks to speak the name of Jesus Christ wherever he goes. "There are many places and 'big wigs' that don't want you to say the J-word. But I'm addicted," he said.
At the end of his talk, looking out at the crowd with a smile on his joy-filled face, he asked us, "Can ya dig it?"
*Information on the life of Meadowlark Lemon was found at www.meadowlarklemon.net