For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Today as I helped coach my son's soccer team I did not know what to expect. It had been two weeks since our team had played together. We play Upward soccer which practices one day a week and plays one game on Saturdays. Our weekly practices had been canceled due to strong rain storms for the past two weeks., and we had been blown out in our first two games. We had not played very well as a team, so our prospects for victory today did not look good. Earlier in the week I had jokingly mentioned to some of our church building committee members to skip breakfast today and ask them to fast and pray for our boys. It seemed we would need divine intervention.
We played in the first game today, so we arrived early and met with the boys and Coach Tyrone, my co-coach. Tyrone and I have been helping Coach Betty, who agreed to coach the team when no one else had stepped up. She is with child and has times when her energy wanes. Coach Tyrone and I saw that she needed some male reinforcements to help keep the boys focused and on track. While loading the car this morning I felt led to bring my basketball coaching clipboard. I knew that using it had been effective in helping my basketball boys understand where they were supposed to go on the court, I thought it might be helpful today. I asked Coach Tyrone to show me where to draw the players on the court. (I watch soccer, but I don't fully understand all of the strategy.) We gathered the boys together and showed them on the clipboard where they were to go and what their roles were. The game began. We play six periods that of six minutes. In the first period we attempted more shots on goal than the other team while not giving up any goals. We substituted some players in the next period and had the same result. We had a 0-0 draw at the half.
The next period we kept attacking and one our strikers got the ball to a midfielder who punched it in for a score. I jumped in the air. If I had been in an old time Pentecostal church I would have been able to jump a church pew at the height I had jumped! I also broke my glasses, but we had scored our first goal. The unthinkable was happening! We managed to hold the lead and win our first game. It was a 1-0 victory. When our team awakened this morning no one knew what to expect, but the coaches and the boys showed up. They played together as a team. They shared the ball. They listened. They played with all their might. Their success in the first period increased their confidence and led to better play in the next period. Our players demonstrated what happens when we shut out the so-called voices of reason that tell us the odds are stacked against us, that we have no hope, that life has dealt us circumstances that will crush us and stop us from succeeding.
Today's blog post is much more than simply a story about how 9 boys overcame huge odds to win. Each day all of us live in a world that is constantly throwing obstacles in our way as we endeavor to live for God. Massive temptations are constanting bombarding us through media. Many people are constantly telling us how bad things are and that righteousness will not win the day (even though God's Word has promised us victory.) Often we are told that we do not have adequate resources. Today all I had was a clipboard, sense enough to obey the strategy that Coach Tyrone suggested, and a voice that could yell loud enough to keep instructing our boys. (My wife said she could hear me a couple of fields over where she was watching our daughter play). I have put the photo of my clipboard in this blog post to remind us that God doesn't expect us to use what He has not given us, but that He always gives us the tools to succeed. Sometimes that success might not necessarily mean winning the game. It might mean playing well as a team and supporting one another. That was our greatest success today. Some successes are evident while others are more subtle, but if we have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ and to His glorious agenda, then we have all of the resources of heaven at our disposal. Press on, my friends. Go on offense, and let us advance the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!