Last month Sheri and I were excited when our daughter Laura decided to join the Jenison Christian girls’ soccer team. The team only had 11 players, enough to play on the field, and her classmates and gym teacher encouraged her to join the team. After watching their first game, Laura enthusiastically responded to their invitation. That evening, Sheri took Laura shopping to buy the cleats, shin guards, and athletic shorts she needed.
Sheri and I enjoyed joining the other soccer moms and dads on the sidelines watching Laura play in her first game. Her team managed to keep the ball on their opponents’ side of the field for most of the game. However, her team wasn’t able to score. The forwards kept kicking the ball to the goalie, to other defenders, or out of bounds. Those of us on the sidelines wondered if the girls’ effort would ever be rewarded. They kept striving for the goal, but couldn’t kick that ball into the net for a long time. We kept encouraging them to keep going.
Because neither team could score during regulation time, the game went into overtime. It was during those final minutes of the game that one of Jenison Christian’s offensive players dribbled the ball toward the goal, made a well-aimed kick, and got the ball past the goalie into the goal for a score. Laura’s team then managed to keep their opponents at bay until the final whistle blew. We parents were excited about our daughters’ victory and that their efforts to reach their goal were finally rewarded.
As I reflect back on Laura’s first soccer game, I can’t help but connect it our lives as Christians and members of the church.
As individual Christians we have a goal to strive for. It’s the goal that the Apostle Paul articulates in II Corinthians 5:9, “…we make it our goal to please him [the Lord], whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” As flawed human beings who still wrestle with sin, we don’t always make our goal. Far too often we fail to please God. As a congregation, we have a goal to strive for in the words of our mission statement: “Our mission is to honor and praise God by increasing the faith of our members through God’s Word and Christian service, and to minister to the unsaved and needy throughout the world, especially in the community He has placed us.” Sometimes as a church it seems like we’re doing a lot of ball kicking, so to speak, without fully reaching our goal. Our Vision Committee is working hard to find ways that we as a congregation can become what God desires us to be. Classis Georgetown recently adopted a vision statement that says, “Classis Georgetown is a community of CRCs in Eastern Ottawa County that live and minister together in Christ to transform lives and communities.” I’m now on a Transition Team to help classis make this vision a reality—but it’s going to take some sweat and determination.
Despite how hard it can be to finally reach our goals as Christians and as a church, I fully trust that the Lord will reward our efforts by his grace. Like a scrappy soccer team, we need to stay in the game and do our part. At just the right moment with God’s help we will score and achieve victory.
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.”
Philippians 3:12-15a (The Message)