Saturday, February 12, 2011

Soccer Gods

"You shall have no other gods before Me."
Exodus 20:3

Some people thought I was the best soccer player ever. After leading my brand new high-school and club soccer team to back-to-back appearances in the play off and semi-final game--never as a winner--I earned an invitation to the coveted Olympic Development Program (ODP) and Alabama College Showcase that would solidify a soccer scholarship to any soccer powerhouse in the nation.

Had I pursued this course I would have been well on my way to living my childhood dream. For as long as I could remember, soccer had been the focus of my life and often, my salvation. And now it was paying me back. Big time.

But strangely, just as I was reaching the pinnacle of athletic success, I slipped into an unexpected funk. I felt uncharacteristically empty and purposeless. After all my sacrifice, after all the incredible achievements (small in God's eyes and at this point, mine too), I couldn't seem to shake free from whatever was oppressing me.

Months passed without me being able to draw up enough energy for a single workout, as opposed to my previous era of five hour a day workouts.

On several afternoons, I summoned the strength to pick up a basketball and take a few shots on the goal. Within a my matter of minutes, discouraged by my lack of precision, I put the ball away for a long time. The very thing I had once hoped to be my ticket to success had eaten me alive.

Idols can do that, you know. There's nothing wrong with soccer--or business or music or writing or entertainment or decorating--but when something becomes the focus of all your dreams and attention and energy, it becomes an idol in your life. For all intents and purposes, you begin worshiping it instead of God.

Nothing can satisfy us like God. And nothing should replace Him in our affections.

The following thoughts often caution my idolistic/idealistic intentions: How many false gods could you name in your life today? What are you hoping they'll do for you?

I pray for Abba to protect my heart from being deceived and to give you and me an overwhelming desire to worship Him and Him only.