Dan shares how a soccer game serves as an analogy for the Atonement in today’s post.
We had just finished a soccer game at a recent tournament. My son’s team had played valiantly against an older and more skilled opponent. The game had been deadlocked at 1-1 for most of the second half with neither team seemingly able to gain any solid advantage over the other. With mere seconds left, a simple error, a ball that would undoubtedly be cleanly kicked 999 times out of thousand glanced off of my son’s foot. The ball squirted towards the goal and right to the foot of the opposing team, they capitalized on the mistake, scoring the fatal goal. Seconds after the ensuing kickoff, the referee blew the whistle 3 times indicating the end to the game.
In the car, I could see that Tracen was feeling dejected, but as has become a tradition of ours, he asked me what I felt he could have done to play better. Taking more license in my suggestions than usual, I launched into a litany of actions I perceived he could improve upon. A couple of different times I even made reference to the error which had cost them the game, adding that I couldn’t believe he missed that kick. I was certain that he was taking copious mental notes, fully appreciative of my feedback and counsel. But he wasn’t.
When I finally paused long enough to look over at my son, I could see tears silently streaming down his face. Recognizing I had taken my diatribe too far, I quickly tried to cover up the damage from my rapid-fire advice stream by telling him that I thought he had played pretty well. He looked over at me, blinking back the tears and simply stated, “You know Dad, I’m never going to play a perfect game.”
His words struck a profound chord with me. He was right. He was never going to play a perfect game. My thoughts suddenly shifted to a bigger field. I imagined myself as a player on the field of life. As I looked back on the game I had played thus far it became immediately transparent just how imperfectly I had played. I could see moments where I had triumphed, scored and given it my best effort, and then there were the times when I was disinterested, distracted, injured, bored, and disengaged. I hadn’t played a perfect game, nowhere close.
I have come to realize and accept that I was never intended to be the champion of this match. There is someone else who has already played this game perfectly, and with exact obedience. He is the deserved champion. He has already set the example for me to reach for, but one He knows I will never attain. It is my belief that as He watches my efforts unfold, He isn’t sitting there with a clipboard jotting down every single error I commit. Not that He doesn’t see each fault, He does, but it is my belief that He gently and continually encourages me, entreats me to improve, to re-engage, to pick up my pace, to keep shooting… He is the ultimate teammate, coach and fan.
At some point I will get to view the replay of my life in full and I am certain that it will be in painful HD. I am sure that at some points of my review I will want to turn my head in shame of the player I was. I imagine, in love and mercy, Father might say to me, “You know Dan, you were never going to play the perfect game.”
A caring Father has blazed a path for me to win my match in spite of insurmountable odds and an opponent which appears unbeatable. The sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, supplied the necessary mercy through the atonement, while meeting the demands of justice. So long as I choose to try, try and try again, a loving Father and my Savior stand at the ready to support me as I stumble, and blunder my way through my game of life.
So no, Tracen will never play the perfect soccer game just as I will never be the perfect parent. I expect we will both just continue on making heaps of mistakes. And that suits me perfectly well.
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