Side-lined parents shout encouragement from their collapsible thrones. "Did you drink? When was the last time you had a good, long drink?" they query, shoving fresh water bottles into sweaty palms as various juniors saunter by for a pat on the back or a whispered reassurance.
I watch my own son. He moves with grace. Such ease! Like he was meant for sport. For competition. For speed. For the win. And then, an injury. Nothing serious (although the adrenaline coursing through my quickly responding body shouts otherwise). Lots of blood and a woozy boy with a deep cut through the heel of his hand. A quick trip to the first aid tent for a badly executed patch-up job. And we're back on the pitch, stick in hand, ready for the chase. The goal. The contest.
My son's courage lags as he wrestles with a swelling injury and break in confidence. "Mom? It hurts. I want to quit. I want to go home. It hurts real bad." The coach understands. Absolutely. Take him home. No problem, he murmurs, his warm Australian accent reassuring the boy that there's no shame in walking away.
I look into the unsettled eyes of my son. I know he's hurting. And I know it's not time to walk away.
Gently, I tug off his now soiled bandages and see the source of his pain: the cut, to be sure, but more, the swelling caused by a too tight tape job. We trodge off to find a sink and clean gauze. Loosely, I re-cover and re-tape his already healing wound. "Flex that hand, buddy," I urge. "Does that feel better? Here take an Advil ~~ it'll start working in a few minutes ~~ and feel how loose those bandages are. Do you think, maybe, you have one more game in you?"
He's relaxed now. He grips his hockey stick. He grins. "Yeah. I want to stay." He's running. Away from me, back to his team. They need him and he knows it.
Our Everyday Faith involves so many nicks and scrapes, slashes and bruises. There are many days, weeks, months when we do not hear the cheer of a side-line crowd hollering that "We can do it! Keep going! YES! You scored!" And then, the injury. Our gashes recoil with the sting of sweat-salt and the throbbing pain of bandages hastily applied, too-tightly wound. And we want to quit. It hurts. It's hard to hold on to God Truth. What with the sun pounding down on us and the win eluding us and the fresh cut stinging us, we just want to quit.
It's not time to quit. Not yet. The team needs us. It really does. We were meant for this sport. For competition. For speed. For the win. We move with more Grace than we know. Maybe a new cut needs re-dressing. Maybe we need a few aside moments of nurture and cleansing and good medicine so that we can get back in that game. But it's not time to quit.
My boy played-out the day, winning MVP for his team. He scored goals where no one else could and spurred his team to play faster, harder; cheering on the youngest players, challenging the experienced, he did not stop until the tournament had run it's course.
And I'm reminded to spend some aside time with my soothing God ~~ cleansing time, pain reducing, wound patching time. Because we don't want to quit too soon. Our team needs us.
May the Lord direct our hearts
into God's love
and Christ's perseverance.
~ II Thessalonians 3 ~