Grace and a soccer game

shoes and ball

Quiet remains from the soccer game.

This morning’s indoor soccer game loomed over us like a severe weather watch. Our daughter didn’t want to go. And I can understand. Her team has lost nearly every game for two consecutive seasons.

My husband and I privately bolstered each other. This truly was no fun for any of us. And although we missed the morning service at church at least we could salvage the day by attending the 5:00 pm service. “It’s a life lesson she must learn. It’s painful, but she has to speak up to the coach herself and express her frustration. We can even role play with her, such as, ‘coach, I can’t stand being on a losing team. What can you do, what can I do to help the team win?'”

We pushed and we prodded. We got our normally exuberant girl out the door to a game she didn’t want to play. “Your team is counting on you to be the goalie. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing even when you don’t feel like it,” we preached. As we walked into the sports complex I said a private prayer aloud with her, “Please Lord, bring her the courage and confidence she needs. Bring all of her training to mind when she’s in there playing the game.”

Then, with utter fortitude she played like a mini-Olympian, batting away balls, defending the goal, perfectly placing her punts. The entire team was on fire, a wondrous sight to see all the lessons of teamwork, playing in position, aggression and the determination to never give up. Everything worked. As I watched the entire field from the upper level viewing area, I realized that these 10 and 11-year-olds are learning lessons about aggressive commitment that I’ve never fully practiced in my own life. As a contemplative writer and editor I live in my head and heart more than I do on the playing field of life.  They are out there, fighting for their team, those little aggressive, highly charged athletic machines.  With such grace!

Ah, grace. Our unmerited favor. I’m not ashamed to admit that I prayed for a girls’ soccer team, for some change to help bring them out of total frustration, defeat and loss of self-confidence. God’s help and the girls’ commitment certainly was in full view today. And I was reminded of Max Lucado’s definition of grace. He says that grace is God’s ongoing, aggressive commitment to change us from the inside out.

Thank you, Lord, for today’s victory. For the reminder that you do work on us from the inside before anything shows on the outside. And thank you for the ultimate victory that can be ours when we surrender to your grace and glory.