HG151pt2 John 17:9-19
One day a number of years ago I called home late one afternoon to see how things were going around the house. As my wife and I talked, she said, “Oh, by the way, we received a call from the Youth Soccer Association here in town. They were wondering if you might be a coach.” I said, “Well, you told them no, didn’t you?” She said, “I just didn’t have the heart to say no. You’ll have to tell them yourself.” I assured her I would be firm about that. By the time I got home, I had all my reasons laid out. I did not have time. I did not know anything about soccer. I did not want to do it. I firmly gripped the phone and dialed. As I talked to the poor woman at the other end of the line, I learned there would not be a team if I did not coach. I remember my family chuckling in the background as they heard me say, “Yes, I can do it.” The only good thing was that I would get to coach one of my sons.
The next thing I knew, I was up late reading soccer books, trying to understand what a center halfback was, the offside rule, etc. Suddenly I had a coach’s whistle, and I was occupied three days a week from 4 to 6 and half a day on Saturdays.
The season did not go very well at the beginning. You have probably heard the saying, if the bugle gives an uncertain sound, who will follow? That described my coaching, I am afraid. Fortunately I had some good players, and the team came together as the season went on. In fact, in one of the last games of the season, we beat the number one team in the last second of the game and thus made the play-offs. On the night before the play-offs, I invited the team to my church for a potluck dinner with their parents. Even both sides of divorced parents came. Toward the end of the evening I said to them, “If it is all right with you, I would like to share something from the Word of God.” The parents agreed, and I told the boys the story of David and Goliath, with practical applications. The next day we went into the play-offs. We lost in the final minutes, 1–0, but that is not where the story ends. Sunday morning when I stepped into the pulpit, I looked out at the congregation, and there were all my players wearing their orange jerseys, and their parents too—Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and several others with varying backgrounds. That began a ministry in several of those families’ lives. I did not want to coach, I did not have time to do it, but because I just did not know how to say no, I ended up coaching. And that turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.
Despite my reluctance I experienced the truth that our lives are not to be ones of isolation or assimilation but of mission.