warning soccer illustrations ahead
Every four years 32 teams from around the world gather together to play a tremendous tournament known as the World Cup. Each team battles for years prior to making it to one of the elusive spots. Once there, they must battle further through a group of four teams to advance to the knockout stages. The politics, the skill, and the unknown all work together to create great drama.
In 2010 the US Soccer team took one of its most potent and talented teams in history. They had accomplished things as a team that previous national teams failed to. This was to be the golden year of accomplishment. However, an unlucky and disappointing result in their second game left them with a must-win final group game if they were to advance. But they were stuck in a deadlock, a tie that seemed to doom them to defeat and embarrassment.
But then, an amazing set of athleticism and talent saw the USA breaking towards the opponent’s goal. A perfect pass led to another perfect pass which led to a final perfect pass and to a shot on goal…
But the Algerian goalkeeper reacted correctly and blocked the shot.
There was a collective groan.
But it only lasted a second.
The rebound from the goalkeeper’s save fell to USA star Landon Donovan who shot the ball into the back of the net.
The nation (yes there are a good number of others who love soccer in the US besides me) erupted in sheer delight! Don’t believe me? Watch the video I attached.
But don’t just watch the video.
Wait for a moment before you do.
Because what you are about to see is a taste of grief, anxiety and fear turned to joy and victory.
When I watched it this week, my eyes filled with tears. Not of sadness. Not of joy over a moment in soccer history. Rather it was because the Holy Spirit reminded me of how much greater our joy and our praise will be when Jesus returns.
Now you can watch it! (the goal is first, the worldwide celebration is second)
One of the greatest hymns ever created contains this line…
When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!”Revelation 5:13 NIV
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.Revelation 7:9-10 NIV
Life certainly has its moments of grief does it not?
There are often times when we look at our world and wonder if evil really will triumph.
But Christ has and will come through for us.
Victory is ahead! Shouts of acclamation (loud and enthusiastic approval)!
Celebration, unlike any we have ever known, will be ours and will go on and on and on and on.
Tears, burdens, fears, failures, loss? All will be washed away for good.
That is why we do not fear death.
That is why the thought of death should be something we are at peace with in a way that confuses non-believers.
That is why we sing praises even now, because we have tasted this coming victory and we can’t wait for the fullness of it to come.
Rejoice, Friends! Your Savior is returning! May our time here be spent preparing the way for Him and by working to bring others into the celebration with us!
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.2 Peter 3:13-14 NIV