Saturday, April 30, 2016

For Which Team Are You Playing? by Darla Grieco

Darla Grieco is a fellow writer, friend, and prayer warrior. She's prayed for me many times over this past year (and I for her). As if that were not enough of a gift, she has given me the gift of her writing with this beautiful blog post. I cried when I read it. Oh, if we would take these words to heart. Be blessed and share some love with her, like you always do, and don't forget to check out her links, below.

Spring had sprung and soccer season was in full swing. The only problem was that in one particular game, the odds were stacked against us. 

My son’s U10 soccer team trailed the opposing side by many points— so many points, in fact, that we stopped counting. And although defeat was imminent, our young boys never stopped fighting. They poured their hearts out on the field kicking and maneuvering the best they could. 

I especially noticed the excitement of one child who had just joined the team. We will call him Charlie. With only one practice under his belt, Charlie didn’t know the boys too well and neither did they know him. However, they tried to work together the best they could. Everyone really wanted to include Charlie, and he was ready to play. 

As the game went on, Charlie eagerly waited down field for his turn at the ball. He swayed back and forth on his toes just waiting for his chance to attack. Then, suddenly, the ball landed right at his feet. His eyes lit up. There were no defensive players in sight. A smile spread across his face, and he quickly took to dribbling the ball downfield. 

With everyone quite a ways off, he took a moment to line up his shot and swung with all his might. The ball soared through the air and landed square in the net. Our team’s net. He raised his arms in triumphant celebration… until his eyes locked on the exasperated goalie--his friend and teammate. 

I’m not sure about you, but I can relate to Charlie. Some days, life is flying by so quickly, and the excitement runs high. All around me, the world cheers me on to act or behave in a certain way. I know that way sometimes goes against “my rule book,” the Bible. However, in the excitement of the moment, I lose my focus.

I shoot.

I score.

The result: Satan-1 God-0

Years ago, before I understood God’s grace, I would want to run and hide, hanging my head in shame. I, like Charlie, assumed my actions were beyond forgiveness. Fortunately, forgiveness and grace are two of the benefits of being on God’s team. Don’t get me wrong—this is not a license to sin! Rather, this is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate one’s game plan.
Here are some reminders that I learned from Charlie’s experience and how I apply them to my Christian walk:
  • Know the rule book. (The Bible is chock full of lessons and applications for your life. If you do not know what is in the Bible, you will not be able to identify when you are “breaking the rules”. 2 Timothy 3:16)  
  • Train regularly, and on occasion, with your team. (Spending time in prayer and Bible study every day keeps you plugged into the Holy Spirit and your mind steadfast on how to live a life honoring God. Attending weekly church and/or small groups provides you extra support. John 15:5) 
  • Apply what you’ve learned in the game. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement. Be aware and stay focused! (The enemy prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Apply what you’ve learned in your daily life and be aware of your pitfalls. 1 Peter 5:8)
  • If and when you make a mistake, apologize for your indiscretion and learn from your mistakes. (Repent. Acts 3:19)
  • Receive the grace you’ve been given. (Romans 3:23-24)

Charlie looked devastated that day on the field. Who wouldn’t be after scoring a point for the wrong team? I know I would never want to score a point for the other side if I were on a sports team. Why, then, do I consider letting my guard down in life when temptation comes? 

Choosing which team I’m committed to is a daily struggle. I wake to demands, distractions and personal baggage that woos me back into my old ways of being: a cruel word spoken tempts me to snap back with a wise remark; witnessing an unjust treatment of another can cause me to want to plot revenge; unkindness or betrayal fosters a seed of bitterness to grow in my heart. And the list goes on.  

That is why I must make a point to be an active participant of God’s team—not just on Sunday or when someone is looking, but each and every day of my life, in all my choices, big or small. 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12
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