One of my daughters has been asking to play soccer for about 3 years now, so when she came home from school clutching the flyer in her hand this year, we finally agreed. And, in what has turned out to be yet another in my growing list of “father errors,” I also signed up to assist the coach. (More about that another day….)
In between the signing up and the season’s beginning, Rachel and I have been slowly getting ourselves ready for the adventure. After getting her the proper shoes, shin guards, and ball, we decided to head to the field for some pre-season training. I was perhaps even more excited than Rachel, as I have probably spent as much time on the soccer field as I have in the sanctuary over my lifetime–and for the first 25 years of my life it wasn’t even close.
As I reached toward the top shelf of my closet for the box contianing my soccer gear, my joy was at its zenith. But, as often happens from pinnacle moments, the fall can be quick and painful.
My shoes, which once sparkled with energy and which could tell you glorious tales of goals scored or shots defended, seemed to turn from the light. It was as if they didn’t want to be awakened–as if they knew what was coming and wanted no part of it.
But I persisted. I pulled them out of their resting place only to make the sad discovery that they had not aged well. The leather had gone stiff, the rubber soles were cracked and–though I tried mightily–there would be no way that they would ever find the field of glory again. They had become useless simply because they sat idle for so long.
In a strange way, my sad discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. During these days of Lent I have been considering what it means to give myself away for the sake of the gospel, and that long-hidden box of shoes became a lens for me. It has helped me consider which life I would rather choose–a life which gives itself for the sake of the gospel, or one that simply plays itself out from a hidden place.
While it’s too late for the shoes, it’s not for me. I’ve still got life in me. And, given the choice of a life given away for the sake of the gospel or a life that simply dries up, I know what I want to choose–a life that loses itself for the sake of the good news that God is up to in Jesus Christ.