I was watching some little kids play soccer. These kids were only five or
six years old, but they were playing a real game - a serious game - two
teams, complete with coaches, uniforms, and parents. I didn't know any of
them, so I was able to enjoy the game without the distraction of being
anxious about winning or losing - I only wished the parents and coaches
could have done the same. The teams were pretty evenly matched. I will just
call them Team One and Team Two.
Nobody scored in the first period. The kids were hilarious. They were clumsy
and terribly inefficient, as only children can be. :-) They fell over their
own feet, they stumbled over the ball, they kicked at the ball and missed
it, but they didn't seem to care they were having fun! In the second period,
the Team One coach, pulled out what must have been his first team players
and put in the scrubs; with the exception of his best player, who he left at
goalie. The game took a dramatic turn. I guess winning is important even
when you are five years old, because the Team Two coach left his best
players in; the Team One scrubs were just no match for them. Team Two
swarmed around the little guy at goalie. He was an outstanding athlete for
five, but he was no match for three or four who were equally as good. Team
Two began to score. The lone goalie gave it his all. Recklessly throwing his
body in front of incoming balls, trying valiantly to stop them. Team Two
scored two quick points in succession. It infuriated the young boy. He
became a raging maniac - shouting, running, and diving. With all the stamina
he could muster, he finally was able to cover one of the boys as he
approached the goal. But, that boy kicked the ball to another boy twenty
feet away, and by the time the young goalie repositioned himself, it was too
They scored a third goal. I soon learned who the goalie's parents were. They
were nice, decent-looking people. I could tell that his dad had just come
from the office, tie and all. They yelled encouragement to their son. I
became totally absorbed, watching the boy on the field, and his parents on
the sideline. After the third goal, the little kid changed. He could see it
was no use; he couldn't stop them. He didn't quit, but he became quietly
desperate - futility was written all over his face. His father changed too.
He had been urging his son to try harder - yelling advice and encouragement.
But then he changed; he became anxious. He tried to say that it was okay ...
to hang in there. He grieved for the pain his son was feeling. After the
fourth goal, I knew what was going to happen. I've seen it before. The
little boy needed help so badly, and there was no help to be had. He
retrieved the ball from the net and handed it to the referee - and then he
cried. He just stood there while huge tears rolled down both cheeks. He went
to his knees, I saw his father start onto the field. His wife clutched his
wrist and said, "Jim, don't. You'll embarrass him." But, he tore loose from
her and ran onto the field. He wasn't supposed to for the game was still in
progress. Suit, tie, dress shoes, and all - he charged onto the field and
he picked up his son so everybody would know that this was his boy. And he
hugged him and kissed him ... and cried with him. I have never been so
proud of any man in my life. He carried him off the field, and when they got
close to the sidelines I heard him say, "Scotty, I'm so proud of you. You
were great out there. I want everybody to know that you are my son."
"Daddy," the boy sobbed, "I couldn't stop them. I tried, Daddy, I tried and
tried and they scored on me." "Scotty, it doesn't matter how many times
they score on you. You're my son, and I'm proud of you. I want you to go
back out there and finish the game. I know you want to quit, but you
can't. And son, you're going to get scored on again, but it doesn't matter.
Go on, now." It made a difference - I could tell it did. When you're all
alone, and you're getting scored on - and you can't stop them - it means a
lot to know that it doesn't matter to those who love you. The little guy ran
back on to the field, and they scored two more times; but it was okay.
I get scored on every day. I try so hard. I recklessly throw my body in
every direction. I fume and rage. I struggle with temptation and sin with
every ounce of my being - and Satan laughs. And he scores again, and the
tears come, and I go to my knees; sinful, convicted, helpless. And my Father
rushes right out on the field - right in front of the whole crowd - the
whole jeering laughing world, and he picks me up. And he hugs me, and he
says, "I am so proud of you. You were great out there. I want everybody to
know that you are my child.