Defying low expectations

A Christian Science perspective: When a mom hears that her son's soccer coach once described the players as "lambs to the slaughter," she finds a way to help.

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Society makes many predictions for us. People peg us for certain roles or positions. Sometimes we enjoy the prediction – hero, star, champion athlete. Other times it may feel hurtful, put us down, or stunt our personal growth. I’ve found that when faced with a negative outline or expectation, I can turn to God to know that good is all that He has in the forecast for me.

Many stories in the Bible tell of people having overcome low expectations. David and Goliath is one such story. Goliath was a Philistine giant, about 10 feet tall. He had been a warrior from his youth. David was a shepherd boy, who volunteered to go up against Goliath to save the Israelites from the Philistines. Despite the doubts of his countrymen as well as the smug attitude of Goliath, experience and size did not matter to David. The Bible records that he knew that God was his strength and power. Not only did David defeat Goliath, he killed him with a sling and one smooth stone.

I’m reminded of this story when thinking about a soccer tournament my son played in recently with teams from surrounding states. Each soccer club is required to submit a premier team, made up of the top skilled players in the program, in order to allow the club to submit teams in other skill brackets. The clubs that we play against have very talented teams, and the top team in our program has lost many games.

As the time for the tournament approached, a couple of the parents of the players expressed their concern about the high skill level of the teams our boys would be competing against. Last year, the coaches told the parents that they didn’t have the level of talent to put together a premier team, but they submitted the best team that they could. They called the premier team the “lambs to the slaughter.” Based on past experience and our team record this season, we didn’t expect much out of this year’s event.

My son was asked to be on this premier team. As I listened to the negative thoughts during the time leading up to the event, I decided that I didn’t need to accept anything less than God’s goodness to unfold for everyone present at the games. I prayed with this message from the “Christian Science Hymnal”:

O blest is he to whom is given
The instinct that can tell
That God is on the field, although
He seems invisible.
(Frederick W. Faber, No. 86)

What a comforting thought, to know that “God is on the field.” Those boys could go play to the best of their ability, expressing their God-given skill. If God was on the field, then everyone would be safe, the games would be harmonious, and we could expect no unsportsmanlike conduct.

I continued to pray to know that everyone involved – the coaches, the players, the parents, and even the referees – were there to express God. Nobody on the field had a special talent or skill of their own; they were all there to express God’s precision, grace, endurance, strength, agility, security, abundance, and joy.

On the first day of the tournament, the boys played well. They won their first game and lost their second. Each game was well matched, and the boys played well enough to advance to the semifinals the next day. The second day was filled with excitement, skill, and determination. The boys not only played their hearts out, but our club, which was not expected to go very far, won the tournament.

We should never let others decide what our path and direction should be. No matter what our field is – be it an office, a courtroom, restaurant, home, school, or playing field – God is with us, and we can express only His qualities. We can allow God to lead us and show us how best to use the talents He gives, and perform to glorify Him.

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