1 John 4: 19 We love because he first loved us.
Nearly every child playing a sport dreams of playing at the highest level. Perhaps it’s playing in a World Cup Soccer final, or in the National Hockey League or international cricket or perhaps participating in an IAAF track & field competition. What a life that would be; being revered, likely having all the money you need. Even many adult fans think that such athletes who have attained the highest level have the greatest possible life. But if you chat with any sports star you will hear other stories. For many the joy is gone. Perhaps they are mired in politics, perhaps they have even been abused by the media or fans. I recently watched a documentary about 6 young men who grew up playing soccer together at Manchester United and achieved the highest prize in 1999 by winning the league, the FA Cup and the European Cup. What could be better? But star David Beckham had made an error in the 1998 World Cup while playing for England and received a red card which likely caused England to exit the tourney early. After that he required an armed guard, he received bullets in the mail, and he saw his effigy burned from lampposts. It sure is easy to lose your love of the game when this happens.
Former star soccer player for the U.S. Women’s National team, Mia Hamm, has a wonderful quote that I believe every athlete should hear and internalize. “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.”
I know of men and women who have experienced difficult times within their local church. Many have been disappointed by fellow Christians, or often by church leaders. This has caused some to draw back from church and in fact some have wandered away from their faith in God. Where opportunities exist, I challenge them with this question: “if other Christians have caused you to wander away from God and the church He established, was your actual Christian relationship with Jesus, or was it with people?” I have been disappointed by many, many Christians, but I know that that God has never disappointed me. God, however, has humbled me to recognize that I too have disappointed other Christians, and disappointed God more times than I want to think about. But God never disappoints and is always quick to forgive me for my sins. How can I wander from Him for the actions of other sinners like me?
Like Mia Hamm who had to remind herself of where it all began, I need to remind myself of the day I accepted Jesus into my heart and remind myself of the beauty of that first love. God loves me so deeply and His primary desire is to have a personal relationship with me. When I get that relationship right, I no longer look to the left or the right to see how I have been wronged, I look up into my saviour’s eyes and I recognize that He is in control. May you too return to your first love – Jesus.