Sunday, April 04, 2010

The gospel according to a soccer mom.

I've been 'chewing' on something since yesterday.

Here's the image: I'm sitting on the sidelines watching my 6 year old play soccer. My 3 year old is having a hard time sitting still through 2 soccer games, but all the while is super encouraging. He's yelling encouragement to nearly every player on the field by name, and clapping. :) All the while, I know that his chief desire is not to be on the sideline; he wants to be IN the game. But amazingly, he's content to be on the sideline with mommy and daddy, and is a blessing/encouragement to those that are playing.

Hopefully I won't lose you as I make a spiritual analogy here that actually brought tears to my eyes on the sidelines (I know you're thinking, GOSH Sarah, you are such a crier! I know, I know...) I've felt in some seasons of my life, like I'm on the sideline- and that the REAL ministry is out happening somewhere else, while I'm at home, raising my kids, doing things that go 'unseen.'

I thought of the passage in Acts chapter 6 that talks about how in the days of the early church, they had been so consumed with spreading the message that they realized they had been neglecting the care of the poor. So they set out to select some men to be dedicated to service, so that the others could be dedicated to preaching/teaching. But you'll notice they didn't say "those most spiritual/gifted among us should go preach the word and the rest of you stay and wait tables"... What they actually did was choose 7 who were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom... then they presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them (commissioned them for service).

I love looking at this story, and realizing how intentional it was, that specific men would be dedicated and commissioned for service, and others would be sent out for the public ministry. It was not those who hadn't yet 'arrived' or that weren't as 'good' at the ministry... it was men (as the Message translation puts it) 'whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense.' I love that they were actually commissioned (which usually means 'sent out') to STAY and wait tables.

Anyway- back to the soccer game. My exhausted 6 year old kept looking back at us when he was really tired. He would see us hooting and hollering and cheering him on, and he would find more energy and play harder... He would smile and motion to us after he scored a goal... And when he subbed out, he fell, breathing hard, across my lap, and we handed him his water and told him how proud we all were. It totally made me look at my life and evaluate how well I was doing in my sidelines job. Am I encouraging and supporting those that are out in more public ministry? Am I realizing the value/importance of my role? Am I seeing that yes, those on the field get to make all the goals, but they're also the ones who are more likely to get hurt, bruised, and exhausted?

It was just a sweet reminder that God fully intended me & my three year old to be doing the job of 'encouragement' and for my 6 year old to be out there playing in the game. Imagine how strange it would have been for me or my 3 year old to sub in and start playing the game because we 'really wanted to play.' Ugh- how awkward... Is that how it looks when we try to assume a roll in God's kingdom that was meant for someone else?

My final thought: The other cool perk about being there, encouraging the players, is that my 3 year old got to share in the team snack after the game. :) I'll let you reflect and draw your own parallels here. :) Happy Easter!


theheartofachild said...

LOVE THIS! I feel like the Lord has been preparing me to slow down and I am "going on the sidelines' for a season. :-) Love this analogy and it is very meaningful to the wonderful new season I am entering!

Aimee said...

This is so sweet! I *totally* hear you when you are talking about being home, unseen, while the "REAL ministry is happening somewhere else." I feel the same way a lot of times.

But I was reading "Thriving Family" magazine by Focus on the Family and something stuck out to me. It was talking about how we shouldn't put our children in a Christian cocoon, but to prepare them to "go into all the world and preach the good news" (Mark 16:15).

ALL the world means not just mission fields, but also the school playground. Or the grocery store. Or our local battered women & children's shelter. Maybe our "world" is wherever we are?

I know your heart and I know India has been on your heart for a very long time. God put that there. I don't know why the season you're in means being stateside. But what a beautiful thing that you are literally bringing the mission field into your home. Who knows what doors will be opened for you through and because of that?

THIS story and lesson... of being on the sidelines and on being encouraging, all of us working together, but in different jobs... is really a beautiful story of the entire body. THANK YOU for sharing this!

Tanya said...

Wow! I love that analogy. So many times I wonder why God chose me to be on the "sidelines" and if my job as "encourager" is meaningful enough. What a wonderful reminder that we all have a place on the "team" and need to be content with the gifts God gave us. And then go use them!

Well said!

Peter and Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts -- we all long for significance, and it's so important to remember that the world often doesn't notice or reward things that God thinks are worthwhile.

Becca Van Valkenburg said...

Sarah, well written! I have been having almost the exact same thoughts lately, and I'm really trying to grow and mature in this season of 'sideline living.' I'm starting to see a few of the fruits of my hard work, and it's been really rewarding. Thank you for sharing what's on your heart!

sarah bess said...

i want you to know you really encouraged me today, Sarah.

Anonymous said...

Sarah- I don't know you but after reading your blog, I want to! your words and analogies are so encouraging :) Thank you for sharing what the Lord is doing in and through you...I am encouraged and I look forward to hearing more from you!