Read Luke 5:1-11.
“So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (v. 11).
Coach [Ray] Mears never talked to me about it and I never
talked to him about it. It was just coach and player,” said Larry Robinson. “It” was the elephant in the room when Robinson became a trailblazer for UT basketball.
Robinson joined the Volunteer team in 1971 as Tennessee’s first African-American basketball player. “I didn’t live in a vacuum,” he said. “I was aware of what the situation was. . . . I felt if I could be a good citizen, everything would be fine, that I could help the societal situation.”
Robinson was, in fact, the perfect man for his time and his pioneering situation. Both his academics and his character were impeccable. He was one of fifteen children raised in a Christian home in Virginia. He was such a good athlete that football coach Bill Battle offered him a football scholarship; he eventually played on the Dallas Cowboys’ taxi squad for two seasons.
The football team had integrated in 1968, so Robinson wasn’t the only black athlete on campus. But Mears and his assistants took a decidedly low-key approach to Robinson’s groundbreaking role. Lloyd Richardson, who was Robinson’s roommate for the 1971-72 season said that race “just never entered the mix. He was accepted wholeheartedly, and that’s a credit to him. He was a joy to be around.”
Robinson averaged 10.2 points and a team-high nine rebounds that first season as the Vols went 19-6 and tied Kentucky for first place in the SEC. As a senior in 1972-73, Robinson was a pioneer again when he was named team captain. He averaged 11.7 points and 8.5 boards to lead the Vols to a second-place SEC finish.
Going to a place in your life you’ve never been before requires a willingness to take risks and face uncertainty head-on. You may have never helped change the history of a program at a major college, but you’ve had your moments when your latent pioneer spirit manifested itself. That time you changed careers, ran a marathon, volunteered at a homeless shelter, learned Spanish, or went back to school.
While attempting new things invariably begets apprehension, the truth is that when life becomes too comfortable and too familiar, it gets boring.
The same is true of God, who is downright dangerous because he calls us to be anything but comfortable as we serve him. He summons us to continually blaze new trails in our faith life, to follow him no matter what.
Stepping out on faith is risky all right, but the reward is a life of accomplishment, adventure, and joy that cannot be equaled anywhere else.
When I decided to come to Tennessee, as far as black or white or red or yellow, we were a team. — Larry Robinson
Unsafe and downright dangerous, God calls us out of the place where we are comfortable to a life of adventure and trailblazing in his name.