Friday, July 20, 2007

Getting in the game

I am a soccer mom. I drive a mini van, with folding chairs, umbrellas and a lone goalie glove in the back. I can probably drive to the soccer fields in my sleep. I know not to yell "Kick it! Kick it HARD!", but rather "Cross!" or "Switch!" or "Shot!" I understand red cards and yellow cards and know, thanks to our good friend Bill, that one cannot yellow card a coach (another story for another time...let's just say it involves my zealous soccer coach of a husband and an equally zealous albeit misguided referee from another city). I am fixer of gatorade bottles and washer of uniforms. I can explain the offsides penalty to the uninformed. I watched the World Cup. With interest. The number of soccer matches I have attended probably numbers in the hundreds. I am the quintessential soccer mom.

The thing is, for all my soccer expertise, it's only secondhand information, based on observation (much, much observation) and what others (my patient soccer coach husband) have told me. I've never actually played the game. Well, except for that one time a couple of weeks ago when my husband got me out in the yard to demonstrate proper defensive strategy to our youngest son. It pains me to admit this to you, but I think I may have kicked the ball with my toe.

No, I much prefer the superior wisdom (that self-important kind) of my chair on the sidelines. There, I can talk the talk, loudly if necessary, yet properly maintaining my status as a spectator, not player. Not unlike many in our churches: those who know the whole Christian lingo and appear to know of what they speak, but really, if you get down to it, it's only secondhand information. They only know what they've observed and what someone else has told them. They do not know Jesus any more than I know how to play soccer. Here's how Jesus put it:
Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Matt 7:22-23 (NIV)

I know that life is more than a game and it is not my intention to suggest otherwise. However, I do believe that our pews contain spectators thinking themselves players who attempt to come near to God based on their words and their works and will instead one day hear the ominous words "Depart...I never knew you."

As I watch my sons play a game they love, I am sometimes envious. Oh, it's hard work all right. They sweat and run and push and get knocked over. Yet they know something I have never known: the thrill of the game, the exhilaration of getting out there and getting dirty. At the risk of sounding terribly trite ( and despite this post I really do hate sounding trite), I'm called to play on God's team. He has a game plan, "good works, which he prepared in advance for [me] to do." (Eph. 2:10) Yes, there are the spectators posing as players, yet sometimes I am the player choosing to be a spectator. It's far easier and way more comfortable sitting in my folding chair on the sidelines with my sweet tea in the cup holder. Getting in the game involves some risk. There is that chance of getting knocked down. There are trials and suffering. All is not easy on the playing field. Yet there is much at stake: the glory of my all glorious God and not to mention an enemy who has a few licks coming to him. May I forgo the temporal comfort of the spectator and choose instead to strap on my shin guards and lace up my cleats and get out there and get dirty, for the sake of the gospel and for the kingdom of my Lord Jesus!

In honor of soccer camp this week and the advent of another soccer season soon upon us, I decided to revisit this post from the "Lisa writes..." vault, originally published in September, 2006, with my apologies to you long time readers (anyone?) and those of you who have read this under my "Favorite Posts" sidebar.

Our bags will be soon packed, lists made, house cleaned (somewhat), grandparents on the way--and my husband and I will be on our way to DC! Understandably, I will be on yet another short hiatus until sometime next week...


  1. I am a "soon to be" soccer mom, but have been a "soccer wife" for about 10 years. My husband coaches at the school where he also teaches Jr. High. I would rather be out there playing, but am happy to do the whole lawn chair thing (with coffee) and watch. This will be my 12 year olds first year back in school since 3rd grade. I am having a hard time with it, but know that God is sovereign and trust that my husband is very wise. He wants him for a few years and really, I can't think of anyone better for him to be with! (I will just miss having him here with me!)

    I am always taking everyday things from life and comparing them to the christian life. My brain thinks that way. I like what you said here.

    Hope your kids have a great soccer camp...and you guys a great trip to DC!

  2. Thanks for reposting this...I missed it the first time.

  3. Here's to the soccer moms! But really, Lisa, your toe? Come on! :)
    Like Leslie, I appreciate this repost because I had not discovered our sisterhood then. Now, just another way to love you more. Have a wonderful trip with husband.

  4. Oh I miss those soccer sideline days. I'm a huge soccer fan who has never played the game. I never want to just be a spectator when it comes to knowing Jesus, though. Blessings on your trip...

  5. Another excellent post and SO right on. :-)

    I'll miss you!

  6. I'm glad you reposted it, too. This passage of scripture is one that brings me to my knees often. I want so much to be "in the game" and participating for God's glory rather than spectating, and I find myself falling so short too often.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  7. My husband is coaching our 13 year old's soccer team. He has coached for the last six years.

    The past few years, my attendance at the games has dropped because there are often unruly parents who make comments about my husband's coaching ability. So, I tend to hang back.

    Today is our son's soccer tournament. I'm going to watch, but I'm going to avoid the other parents, because there is one particular couple who have potty mouths and make it very unpleasant for the other parents.

    But I do love to see my son have fun in this way, so it's a worthwhile time.

  8. That is so true. To be a part of His "game" and not just a spectator is so crucial. Lord may I be and active participant for You, may all who see me know Whose team I'm on.

  9. I'm not a soccer mom, but I'm a Cub Scout mom, and that's sort of close . . . definitely hectic, either way.

  10. I discovered your blogspot through my brother's (Nathan)webpage. I have enjoyed reading your post.

  11. Great metaphor! I enjoy reading your blog.

  12. Love this post, Lisa. I can so relate except with us it's basketball. I totally get what you are saying!