As a part of my New Years Resolution, I’m reading The Bible this year. And, each Sunday, I’m reflecting on what I’ve read, which often coincides — funny how The Bible works like that — with something happening in my life. This isn’t meant to proselytize or to thump The Bible. Writing just helps me understand what I’ve read, so that’s what I’m doing. 

If you watch any Philadelphia 76ers game, or any game involving Joel Embiid, or, well, basically any sport with any team or player – though Embiid and the 76ers are your best bet – you’ll inevitably hear the most-oft recited trope in sports: Trust the process.

Embiid didn’t coin it, but the big man has adopted it as his own, helping both to convince Philly fans to trust the process of a total tanking and rebuild, and to convince fans to trust his own process as he recovered from an injury.

Trust the process is a cliché because it’s true, and it’s also applicable everywhere in life. Nobody begins at the top of their metaphorical ladders, whether it be sports, business, politics, family ping pong standings. To get to the top, it’s all about trusting the process of getting there, honing our skills rather than closing our eyes and simply wishing that we’d be at the top. The reason it’s most commonly heard in Philly is because it has worked remarkably well for Embiid and the Sixers.

Once the punch line of the NBA, the Sixers went from 10-72 in 2015-16 to 28-54 to 52-30 to now 47-26 with a playoff spot already clinched. They didn’t ask NBA commissioner Adam Silver to simply slot them in the playoffs. They didn’t ask Golden State to take it easy on them.

They unloaded. Started small. Trusted the process.

In a way, the same thing happened nearly 3,000 years ago, when King Solomon took the throne after King David passed away.

David, of course, is the David of David and Goliath, one of the great figures in all of human history. Solomon, being his son, was also seen favorably in the eyes of God.

“That night,” it reads in Second Chronicles 1:7, “God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’”

Whatever he wants! Solomon had full Aladdin and Genie powers here. He could have asked for his enemies to bow before him. Could have asked for a palace full of women. Could have asked for immortality. Could have asked for riches beyond belief.

“Whatever you want.”

Instead, Solomon asks for “wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people.”

What he’s saying, essentially: All I need is the skills, and I’ll trust the process, I’ll trust You, to get the results I want.

And God loved Solomon’s answer.

“Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.”

So what happens from there? Under Solomon, Israel thrives like no nation has ever thrived before. It becomes so wealthy that “the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.”

Solomon winds up with a fleet of 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses.

He had cities specifically for chariots.

That’s how wealthy this guy got. That’s how successful Israel was under him.

Imagine, though, if Solomon had asked God simply for riches and wealth that night. Maybe God would have given it to him. Maybe he wouldn’t have. History has shown, over and over and over again – and constantly in the Bible and other religious texts — that riches and power without the wisdom and knowledge to know what to do with them lead to invariable destruction. It leads to destruction because there was no process. There was no setback and failure and learning and growing. There was just the end-goal without any of the work to get there and no idea what to do with it.

In a way, Solomon told God that night: “Equip me with the skills to be successful, and I’ll trust you and the process to get me there.”

Embiid and the Sixers are currently on track to have their best season since 2000-2001, when Embiid was 6 years old. He’s good enough that he could have demanded a trade, gone somewhere better, with more talent around him.

Instead, he asked the Sixers’ fans for patience. For trust.

Trust the process. Trust God.

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