It was fun to watch my kids play soccer while they were younger…nothing much cuter than a bunch of five year olds running around a little field chasing after the ball. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to coach Alyssa’s under 12 soccer team. We had a great group of young athletes who were talented and played well together. Our team would go 5-0 in the Fall and then 4-0 that next Spring. We entered the Spring Jamboree and won all of our games in order to get to the final championship game. It was late in the afternoon and all of the players and coaches were tired after a day of tournament play. We played a Prosser team to 0-0 tie at the end of regulation time. We then went through two short overtime periods and it was still tied. We went to a penalty kick shootout in order to decide the whole ball of wax, and...we ended up losing 5-4 -- a very tough way to go out.
So…what do you do, then? You suffer with the girls and parents for a bit…but, what perspective does a young person or an adult take from such an experience? Some in the world would say – we were the first losers and nothing else really matters. We chose to take a more spiritual, realistic look at it all. We celebrated as a team that had such a wonderful time together, had grown together as soccer players and as human beings. We celebrated being 13-1 and chose to learn from the loss as much as from the wins along the way. Sure, it would have been nicer to win, but what is it that really mattered? We need to ask ourselves…what are the greater issues to be discovered and learned through life experiences? It is all a matter of perspective.
Some opponents saw Paul’s ministry as a wreck instead of the gift of God that it truly was. Though these people accused Paul of a lot of wrong-doing, he had nothing to hide, either in his personal life or in his preaching. Paul was open, honest and sincere…there was no deception or distortion in his life or preaching. Paul’s positive attitude contributed to productive ministry for God. Paul did experience some disappointment because of his trials in Europe and Asia. Would he lose heart when his life was so focused on doing so much good for so many? Paul had no reason to lose heart (Galatians 6:9)...for God, in His grace and mercy, had called him and enabled him -- and he knew it! He was called to dispense grace and mercy to others and he did just this. Paul showed great courage through his life and ministry…having been beaten with rods, stoned (perhaps to death), whipped, shipwrecked and imprisoned. It all helped his perspective concerning what truly mattered in life...for Paul, it was all about living for Jesus. In all of these matters, Paul understood that winning wasn't just the end of the journey, but it was how he lived the journey...as a winner!