A few years ago my grandsons, Se’bian and Sabastion, were on a soccer team – the Tigers! It was the second opportunity for both of them to play on a team. Being two years older than his brother, Sabastion seemed to understand what soccer was all about, but Se’bian was still learning. Needless to say, my daughter Dawn and I stood on the sidelines and cheered loudly for both of them because we loved them just as they were whether or not they understood what soccer was all about!
Maybe you’ve never had a chance to watch three-year-olds play soccer, but after watching Se’bian and his team the previous fall, I wondered if the goal of every coach of three-year-olds is not so much to win a game but to, at least, keep the kids on the field! I watched the three-year-olds on his team and the teams they played as the children would lose interest in the game and, instead of chasing the soccer ball, would chase butterflies. Instead of kicking the ball, the children were picking dandelions! Trying to keep track of the kids was like trying to corral kittens! As the game was in progress, kids were on the field, off the field, lying in the dirt, running back and forth to mom and dad getting drinks, hugs and pats on the back. I have to admit I wondered if it made any sense at all trying to teach soccer to three-year-olds!
Then spring came! However, this time Se’bian, four and his brother Sabastion, five, were on the same team. Sabastion was a dynamo as he tore up and down the field, sometimes leading the pack, but always after the ball! Se’bian, on the other hand, may not have been in the midst of the action but there were no chasing butterflies or picking flowers. He actually was staying on the field! Sometimes he even kicked the ball! What a difference a few months had made. Given time and patience the struggles of the previous fall had given way to a better understanding of what soccer was all about and an increased awareness of the role each boy played on the team.
As a Christian I find that I have, likewise, struggled at times with understanding what faith is all about and with who I am as a Christian. There are days when I think I have it all figured out and then there are days when I know I don’t! As I look back over my faith journey I find that I have grown – sometimes in leaps and bounds and sometimes in baby steps, but I have grown. Sometimes I’ve been distracted and have chased butterflies or spent my time picking dandelions instead of focusing on my relationship with God. How glad I am that I didn’t have to get it all right the first time! How glad I am that learning and growing as God’s child is not a one-time happening but a continuing process throughout this life and into eternity. How glad I am to know that God has been there all along – on the sidelines – cheering me on because God loves me just as I am whether or not I understand what faith is all about!