Archive for March, 2011

Lessons From Saturday Soccer

Posted: March 11, 2011 in God Moments

The past month and a half our Saturdays have been spent watching three of our children play indoor soccer.  Eden’s team is the Lightning, Bethany is on the Stars and Justus is playing his first sport ever on the Crew.

Bethany kicked it off this Saturday at 8:30 am with the first game of the day.  Bethany is on a winning team.  They haven’t lost yet.  They work together beautifully, passing and going after the ball, dominating the field, and protecting their goal.  I love going to her games because it seems like a sure thing that they will do well.  Saturday, though, it looked like they could possibly lose.  They were behind the whole game, and her team was dragging more than usual, probably because of the early hour.  But we all had confidence that the Stars would pull it off, somehow, and they did.  I think I might have prayed for that somewhere in the middle of the second half when it seemed like they might need a little extra help.  Bethany scored the goal that tied it up – 9-9.

Next we went to Justus’s soccer game in the gym of Bishop Cummins church.  Justus has been on a losing team.  In each of the 5 games they have played, his team has lost – badly.  A normal score for them is 0-12.  In all their games so far, they had only made one or two points total.  Honestly, it was hard for me to sit through one of Justus’ games, so I would try to get Todd to take him to his games so I wouldn’t have to face the boredom and discouragement of another lost game.  But on Saturday, Todd and I decided to both take him and at least enjoy the time together, even if we weren’t going to be able to enjoy the game.  After about 10 minutes, the score was 0-4 and things were progressing as we all expected.  The kids on the other team were doing victory dances with each new goal.  We were actually surprised when someone on Justus’ team made a lucky kick and brought the score up to 1-4!  We really yelled and cheered, because points for the Crew don’t usually happen.

Then I noticed Justus at the far end of the gym with his hands clasped together and his head bowed.  I nudged Todd, “Todd, it looks like Justus is praying!  I think he is praying that he will win!”  I had a mixed feeling of pride that he had the faith to pray for such a miracle and fear that his childlike faith would be forever destroyed by the inevitability of their defeat.

But to my shock, right after that, The Crew scored another point and then another point!  Everyone on his team started jumping with their hands in the air. “What did you pray for out there?” I asked Justus when he came over to get a drink of water.  “I prayed that we would have strength and that we would win!”  He said with a big smile on his face.  He went back to play, but soon rushed back up on stage where we were sitting.  He had made a goal and tied up the score!  Half the kids from his team went running to their parents to hug them.  The coach tried to get everybody back out on the field to finish the game.

By this time, Todd and I weren’t sitting in our seats any longer, but we were standing on our feet.  We were witnessing a miracle!  The score was 4-4 and there was just a few minutes left on the clock.  The Crew was more energized than they had ever been.  They were kicking the ball hard and protecting their goal and advancing past the middle line more than ever before.  All of a sudden all the members of the Crew raised their arms in the air with joy written across their faces!  The ball had gone again into the other team’s goal and the score was 5-4 – the Crew was winning!  We left the game that day completely amazed and pumped and excited.  The ending score was 6-5 in the Crew’s favor!  There was no doubt in my mind that God had heard Justus’ prayer that day– one that his parents thought was too impossible to pray.

On the way home I thought about that childlike prayer of faith.  In the “wisdom” of all my life’s experience, I often avoid praying the impossible prayers.  I don’t want to ask for something that would take intervention from God, because that could set me up to be disappointed.  But Justus wasn’t worried about that.  He was asking his Heavenly Father for what he knew was beyond him.  Jesus says, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I resolved to be more childlike.  I resolved to be more trusting of my Heavenly Father.  I resolved to crawl up on His lap and ask Him for things beyond myself.  And I resolved to jubilantly thank him just the way the Crew had showed me that morning.

That afternoon we headed to Eden’s game at Lamb of God school for a 2:30 game.  Eden’s team had started off strong in the season, but somehow lost their momentum.  One of their key players had missed the last three games and it wasn’t clear if he was coming back.  They were scheduled to play the team with the best standing and I didn’t have great confidence that they were going to win.  “Mom, can you pray for me?”  Eden asked.  I remembered the lessons I had learned from Justus’ game that morning and I prayed, “Lord, I ask that Elliot would come today, I ask that they could keep the ball away from Josh (the best player on the other team), and I pray that Eden would play her best and that they could win.”  There!  I had verbalized in a prayer all the things that were quite beyond my power to control.  Todd had one important piece of advice for Eden.  “Eden, one thing I’ve noticed with your team, is that when the other team has the ball, you act like it is their ball.  It isn’t their ball!  Get it from them!”

The game started.  The first thing I noticed was that Eden was on top of that ball!  She was owning it!  As soon as someone near her had the ball, she didn’t give them a moment to consider who they were going to pass to or what they were going to do with it.  She was in their face and in their space trying to get it back.  I got excited watching her!  Elliot, the six foot tall 14 year old from her team who had been absent for 3 games, walked through the door and took his place with the team and I noticed that Josh, the guy I prayed they would keep the ball away from on the other team, wasn’t even there.  But most of my attention was on Eden and the new aggression and ownership she had of that ball.  It was infectious.  The rest of her team started to act more like they owned the ball, too!  The Lightning – Eden’s team beat the highest placed team 8-5.  The coach from the other team stopped Eden after the game and said, “You really messed things up for us today, Eden!”

On the ride home from that game I was realizing that God was teaching me another lesson.  I was thinking more about the Kingdom of God.  I was remembering the verse in Matthew 11 that says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  I had watched Eden demonstrate this verse to me that day.  I realized that there are times when I look at the world around me – I look at bad situations that haven’t changed over time, I lose resolve and I act like Satan owns that situation.  But it’s not Satan’s ball!  It’s God’s ball and I’m on His team and He needs me to act a little aggressive to claim back what I’ve gotten so used to Satan stealing away from me!  The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

I had recently heard a sermon by Bill Johnson where he was talking about the dichotomy of the truths of the Kingdom – of both receiving the Kingdom of Heaven like a child and taking the Kingdom by force.  He said there are times for both, and you can’t learn to take the kingdom by force, unless you have first learned how to receive the kingdom as a beloved and trusting child.  I’m asking that God would grow these truths in me that He illustrated to me in such a powerful way this Saturday.  Not that all prayers will be answered within a 50 minute soccer match, but I want to continue praying, “May His Kingdom come, may His will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.”

-Marita Scholtz