[Special note: This was originally written in 2015, but on the advice of my husband, I did not publish then.
offside trap – when a defender(s) acting on a common understanding or trigger, moves forward in a line to catch one or more opponents offside ]
My Bible study group is studying the book by John Bevere, “The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense”. I was reluctant to teach it because I had already read and studied it about 10 years earlier. It was “old news” to me. I had “graduated” from its teaching, or so I thought.
Do you ever feel like that when you read the Bible? If we’re honest, I think we do…we read a story, glean its truths and apply it to our lives. Presto-change-o, we’re better Christians. Next!
As I was preparing for the next lesson at my daughter’s softball practice, my husband was with our son at his high school soccer game. Before I go any further, I need to give a little background on the soccer situation.
My red-headed first born, R., was initially introduced to soccer at age 3, in a recreational league in our town. I loved watching him play and learn the game. As R. grew, so did his love for the sport. My husband ended up getting involved by coaching as well.
When R. entered high school, the only sport he wanted to really play was soccer. It’s a spring sport in our part of the country, so he had to wait almost the entire school year.
That was a difficult season for this mom. I had to watch my son sit the bench 96% of the time and the coaches bumble most every game. I drove many hours to pay to sit and watch my son sit. I watched as other boys who were clearly tired, while we were losing by 4, 5, sometimes 6 goals to 0, and yet the coaches wouldn’t play my son. It was apparent to even me that they didn’t know what they were doing. This frustrated R., but I think it infuriated me. My husband was trying to be the voice of reason by telling me, “You don’t understand sports.”
“He has to ‘pay his dues’…he’s only a freshman.”
Okay, so I refrained from giving the coach a piece of advice, and I thought ‘It’ll be better next year’.
Fast forward to this year, R. is now a sophomore, and hopefully, a bit more mature. Most other high school soccer programs we knew about had started practicing in early January. R’s team did not because their coaches were both basketball coaches and the team was still in its season. To an on-looker, it seems that they don’t care about soccer. Is it just an extra paycheck?
With one full practice before their first game, I was shocked to see all the starters, with the exception of 2, were basketball players. One had not even played last year.
So, last week, sitting in my car, preparing for Bible study, I texted my husband asking if R. was playing. Hubby said, “Half time 3-0 them.”
“Oh me. And R. hadn’t played yet?”
And then it hit me, like a soccer ball to the face when you’re not looking. I had been studying about offense and I was truly offended with these coaches. I had been aggravated, frustrated and irritated with them.
In the words of Bevere, “Offended people react to the situation and do things that appear right even though they are not inspired by God. We are not called to react but to act.” (p. 50)
Boy, was I reacting. I wasn’t afraid to share my opinions with others…mainly my son, my husband and a friend of mine, who all agreed with me, by the way.
Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. – Proverbs 26:20 NLT
BAM. Just like that, conviction flooded my heart. I had been adding fuel to the fire after every game. Every critical comment, every sarcastic remark, every glaring jab was like pouring gasoline on a bonfire.
I realized I have to model some way to R. that this is a spiritual test for me…and him. It’s developing spiritual fruit and character if we’ll allow it. So how do I go about doing that?
First, I have to repent, which means asking God for forgiveness, but also turning from the thing.
Second, I must model the correct talk, or lack thereof. I had the opportunity to do this at his last game. In order not to tempt myself, I sat alone. Mom always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
And while nothing changed at this game, R. still sat the bench for most of the game, as he sat, I prayed. I prayed for him to be a good teammate, to be sportsmanlike in all his plays, to be able to endure the waiting and for God to use this for R.’s character-building. I prayed for me too, to be able to not only to keep my mouth shut, but to truly give up any offense, in other words, to forgive the coaches.
This has taught me once again that I am in constant need of a Redeemer. I can only pray that through this that R. and I will both become more like Him. I do not want to be caught in an ‘off-sides trap’!