At least once in their lives every man needs the experience of coaching little league baseball or pee-wee football. It’s an endeavor that will bring you both tears of joy and tears of frustration. Like one day at football practice, when one little 9 year old told me, “Coach, tell them not to tackle me. I’m allergic to grass.” My response, “Maybe you should try basketball.” Or another kid who complained, “Coach, every time the ball is snapped that kid on the other side knocks me down.” My response, “That’s what he’s supposed to do.” Tears of laughter and tears of frustration.
I remember our first pee-wee football victory. The Buccaneers had just started a pee-wee football program and we were not much of a threat. We were playing 3rd and 4th graders against 5th and 6th grade teams. We were so bad that when we would ask a player, “Are you ready to go in?!” They would often reply, “Not really.” We took our lumps those first two seasons. Not only did we not win a game. We didn’t even score. 55-0, 48-0, 52-0, etc. If we held a team to under 40, we considered it a “defensive victory.” It was hard to stay positive, but we kept telling our boys, wait until you get in the 6th grade and we can play an evenly matched game. Keep working hard and things will be different.
That third year, we finally had a legitimate team. They pushed themselves in the pre-season and we were ecstatic to travel to Columbia, Mississippi for our first battle. And a battle it was. There hasn’t been a Super Bowl played to this day with that much heart on the field. Midway through the 4th quarter the score was tied 0-0. You can imagine the eruption of emotion when one of our defensive backs picked off a pass and returned it for a TD! We went on to our first victory ever with a score of 6-0.
We won plenty of other games after that, but none were as sweet as that one. I still have a picture with my son on the sideline after the game, both of us drenched in sweat. Our boys knew their hard work had paid off…they were becoming a football team.
I believe God wants transformation like this to take place in every single church on His ball of dirt. And every time it happens, I believe God must celebrate.
I believe God watches with holy exhilaration every time a church sets it heart to be what God has called them to be: a selfless, love-drenched, Christ-like family.
And when the power of His love overcomes the separation of skin color, ethnicity, and denomination differences, He must feel victory. When the people in the pulpit figure out that the gospel is good news, and begin to teach it that way, He must feel victory. When He sees His people sharing burdens and caring for one another sacrificially and generously, He must feel victory. When a spirit of humility and authenticity settles over a church so that real people with real problems begin to find hope for their hurts, He must feel victory.
My prayer has always been and will always be: God, make us what you want us to be. Amen.