Yesterday our boys’ soccer team played in our conference championship game. Over my years of coaching I have planned and prepared for many such games. Thankfully we have won far more of them than we have lost. Unfortunately, this was not the case yesterday as we were beaten handily by a better opponent.
I did my best to lift the wounded spirits of the guys, but at times such as this, words, no matter how eloquently spoken, often fall short of accomplishing this intent. The sting of losing a game of this magnitude stays with you for a long while. My Dad used to say “show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.” The fact the boys took this loss so hard is a tribute to their competitive spirit.
Sad to say, losing is an unfortunate but inescapable part of life. It certainly is not what most of us would consider something to be embraced. But in reality, not all loss is bad. Some loss can be a pathway to bigger and better things, which is especially true in the Christian life. Take these few examples from the Bible: We must lose our childhood to become adults (1 Cor 13:11); A man must lose father and mother in order to cleave unto his wife (Gen 2:24); Jesus Himself told us that in order to find our life we must first lose our life (Luke 9:24, among others).
Though losing is often quite painful, it is never the less an inevitable consequence of life, in particular for those of us who truly want to live life to the fullest, as the following quote by Teddy Roosevelt makes plainly evident:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Simply stated: those who are afraid to lose will never win.
I have invested umpteen hours into the soccer program this fall. Although I feel this has been valuable time well spent with our young people, it has regrettably meant many of you reading this have been without a “full-time” Pastor these past 3 months. Soccer is now over, and so I will be returning to my “normal” duties! ;)
One final comment: although losing is part and parcel of life, one thing we can rejoice in is the fact we can never lose our salvation!!!
See you Sunday!