There is no question that we are living in a time when we are bombarded by all sorts of pressures and time constraints. It can leave one wondering what the purpose is in life and if it is really worthwhile. Eventually we can struggle with who we really are or what has been called an identity crisis.
The following illustration helps us to understand who we really are. The Koalas and Cubs were as evenly matched as any two soccer teams made up of five and six year olds could be. In the first half of the game, neither team scored. The players scrambled all over the field in a clump, falling over their own feet, stumbling over the ball, kicking at it and missing. But none of them seemed to care. They were having fun.
During the second half, the coach of the Koalas pulled out most of his starters and sent in his substitutes – except for Scotty, who was the goalie and one of the team’s best players.
The game took a dramatic turn. Apparently the coach of the Cubs was playing to win, because he left his best players in the game.
The Cubs took control of the contest and swarmed around Scotty, who was doing his best to guard the goal. Scotty was a good player but no match for the entire Cubs team. The little goalie gave it everything he had, recklessly throwing his body in front of incoming balls, trying to stop them. His parents cheered him on from the stands, yelling encouragement and advice. Eventually, though, the Cubs scored a goal.
A few minutes later the Cubs scored on Scotty again. This infuriated him and he became a raging maniac – shouting, running, diving. With all of the stamina he could muster, he tried covering two opposing players at once, but it was no use. The Cubs scored again.
After the third and fourth goals, Scotty’s demeanor changed. He could see it was no use. He completely lost hope. Desperate futility was written all over his face. In the stands, his father’s demeanor changed as well. He had been cheering on his son, but now he was feeling bad for him. He kept yelling, “That’s okay, hang in there, son,” but he was clearly feeling his son’s pain.
After the fifth goal was scored, Scotty did what you would expect any six-year-old to do. He got so frustrated that he started crying. Huge crocodile tears rolled down both cheeks. He went to his knees, put his fists to his eyes and cried in anguish. He felt hopeless and brokenhearted.
The boy’s father jumped up and ran onto the field in his business suit, tie, and dress shoes. While the game was still in progress, he picked up his son, hugged him, and cried with him.
He carried his son to the sidelines and said, “Scotty, I’m so proud of you. You were great out there. I came out here because I want everyone to know that you are my son.”
“But daddy,” the boy sobbed, “I couldn’t stop them. I tried, Daddy. I tried and tried, and they kept scoring on me.”
“Scotty,” his father said, “it doesn’t matter how many times they scored on you. You’re my son, and I’m proud of you. I want you to go back out there and keep playing. Finish the game. I know you want to quit, but you can’t. Your team needs you. And you’re probably going to get scored on again. But that doesn’t matter, because you are my son.”
The point of this story is that in life we feel as though we are always getting scored on, and it is easy to lose hope and to want to give up. Like Scotty, you may recklessly throw your body in every direction. You fume and you rage, you struggle with temptations. You sense that the enemy has thrown in all his best players. You have found yourself on your knees, crying out in anguish over your pain, wrongs, your guilt and your shame. You can count on your Father in heaven to rush out onto the field. He’ll pick you up, hold you in his arms, and say, “Child, I’m so proud of you. You were great out there! I want everybody to know that you’re mine and that I am yours. And remember this – because I control the outcome of this game, I declare you the winner.
Isn’t it time to regain your identity and ask God to show you what your purpose in life really is. He wants to tell you. Just ask.
(illustration taken from Les Christie)