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Unlikely Heroes

This year I have the glorious privilege of coaching two soccer teams in the Upward League in Baytown, Texas. My wife and I coach the Flame, the 3rd and 4th grade girls team. My daughter JennaBeth and 5 other girls her age play on the team. These young ladies play hard and are very dedicated, but due to a few people dropping out our team lacks enough players to properly play the game. Last Saturday I began to recruit some players from other teams to assist us. I found a 2nd grade girl named Emily who provided great energy and who excelled in throwing the ball in the field of play. However, the hero of the game was a kindergarten girl named Annie who fearlessly stepped in to play defender and even played goalkeeper for one period.

I had to leave the field for about 10 minutes to take a photo with the boys team, so when I arrived back on the field to coach I noticed that my wife had put Annie at goalkeeper. I was not convinced that this was a wise coaching decision due to Annie's age. Annie had played well as a defender against girls much older than her, but I wasn't sure she was ready to defend the goal. I was wrong! Annie not only defended the goal well, but she kicked the ball much harder on goal kicks than many of the 3rd-4th grade girls. Annie and Emily inspired our undermanned squad to a 2-0 victory.

As we were leaving the field at the end of the day I thought about the girls' game and was reminded of two scripture passages. The first was from 1 Timothy 4:12, Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Annie was only a five year old girl playing with girls between the ages of 8 and 10, but she was fearless. She didn't try to do things that were beyond her ability, but she used the skills she had learned with her regular kindergarten team to supply what was needed for our team. Many people feel that they are too young or too inexperienced to make a difference in their place in life. However, the present need of the hour is people who will faithfully set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Annie and her young teammate Emily lived out these traits before their older teammates and inspired them. Some of the older players had more ability than the young girls, but the abilities of Annie and Emily complemented the skills of the older players. Annie and Emily played within their abilities and training and greatly complemented the older girls efforts. Likewise, those who think they have little talent or who lack experience can be used now to make a difference in their sphere of influence.

The other verse that came to my mind was from the book of Zechariah. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zechariah 4:10, ESV) In this passage of scripture God was reminding the ancient Israelites that their temple might seem small and insignificant compared to Solomon's temple. The new temple was smaller and did not have the elaborate gold and fancy trimmings of Solomon's temple. However, greater events would take place and greater people than those who entered Solomon's temple would one day enter that smaller temple in the future. The Lord Jesus Christ entered that temple during His time here on earth.

Likewise, our team's new players might seem small in size and appear to be merely a stop gap, but that was not the case last Saturday. The young girls stood tall and played their positions with poise and supplied what was lacking. A surprising victory took place. The week before our undermanned team had a 3-0 lead, but due to having no players to rotate our girls grew weary late in the game and finished the game with a 4-4 draw. The new young players allowed our big and strong girls to have some time to rest. One girl was struggling with asthma and had to rest, so the young players allowed us to keep being aggressive and pursue our game strategy. Don't despise people or life situations that seem insignificant or small.

Lastly, those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior have a glorious source of power available each day. We are told in Romans 8:11 that it is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead who is the One living in those who have surrendered to Christ. None of us who belong to Jesus are small or insignificant.

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