Is there a sweeter sound in all the world than the cry of "Gooooaaaalllll!" reverberating through packed stands and millions of television sets during a game of football, futbol, or soccer?
That sound is ringing out many times a day (and night) as 32 teams, representing six world zones, dribble and shoot their way to glory in the International Football Federation's World Cup tournament, being played this summer in Germany.
Regardless of culture or language, the age or gender of players, all you need for an exhilarating game of soccer is a ball, a deserted parking lot (or space between village huts), two pairs of sneakers for goalposts, nimble feet, and a hard head – plus an instinctive regard for teamwork.
At any level in this world game of football – and in almost every aspect of life itself – teamwork is a key word. When a team plays at its best, its cohesive, almost selfless, unity stirs hearts – sometimes even among fans of the other team.
For many of us, it takes on special significance as an illustration of the ultimate collaboration in which people who love God allow Him to work through them to advance His purpose for humanity – salvation and healing for everyone.
This is teamwork of the highest order, bringing with it this assurance from Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science: "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 192).
Christian Science encourages people everywhere to yield at all times and in all circumstances to this inexhaustible spiritual power, because it flows from an all-loving and merciful God, whose will for us is only good. And on occasions such as the World Cup, it's this divine power that can imbue participants with spiritual qualities such as equanimity, unselfishness, alertness, persistence, and stamina.
It's not always realized that World Cup play demands a special kind of endurance. In the average game, mid-field players are required to run a total of about nine miles – with no timeouts and few interruptions – while simultaneously using feet and head to control the ball.
Survival in this tournament is all about finding your stride, maintaining motivation and momentum through as many as seven matches, and staying free of injury. And I know from my own association with professional footballers that many of them draw on Christian beliefs to help them get through. They pray before matches for "wings like eagles," and for the strength and endurance of "the everlasting God" (see Isa. 40:31 and 28).
Such players view events like the World Cup as an ideal opportunity – through their individual performances and their behavior on the field – to heighten awareness among other players, and among officials, spectators, and television viewers, of the spiritual nature of the world and its peoples. And to celebrate God's perfection, goodness, and infinite variety.
In light of this, it would be heartening if people of faith across the globe included the safety and success of the tournament in their prayers. They might also pray that the increasingly fierce competition, leading up to the July 9 final in Berlin, be characterized by friendly interaction between players and nations, fair officiating, and creative goal-scoring maneuvers that leave spectators and TV viewers gasping in admiration.
In international events of this magnitude, there are exciting opportunities for all of us – however and wherever we participate – to seek out and share with others the plentiful evidence of the calming presence of God's love, which is given unconditionally and without regard for race, nationality – or football skills.
Adapted from www.spirituality.com .