Todd was about 10 years old when he joined a local football team. He was a gifted athlete but found the team more than a little intimidating to start with. But over the next three years, the team coach Brian really encouraged Todd and built up his confidence. And his father couldn’t help but notice the difference that Brian was making as he stood on the touchline cheering Todd on at almost every game.
One afternoon, Brian was clearing up after a game, when suddenly Bill sensed God nudging him to walk across the field and offered to help Brian. So he made his way across the field and introduced himself and they got chatting as Bill gave Brian a hand. And they continued to talk briefly after games over the coming weeks until the day came when Bill took a deep breath and asked Brian if he would like to come with him to a Christmas service at his church. And the response was instant ‘no, God is not part of my life, nor churches part of my life, and I just as soon take the whole thing off the agenda now’.
Bill tried to reassure Brian that he was committed to respecting what he would want and didn’t want him to feel under any pressure. He simply continued quietly chatting with Brian over the following weeks until eventually Todd outgrew the soccer team and he lost contact with Brian.
But several years later, Brian unexpectedly phoned Bill and asked if he could come and talk with him and when they met up it was clear that Brian was going through a tough time. They met several times, but months later, Bill was amazed to see Brian sitting in a group of people at church who were preparing for baptism. His first thought was that he must have been in the wrong place (!), but after the meeting, Brian told Bill that he had crept into his church a couple of months before and had landed up giving his life to Jesus Christ. And subsequently he was baptised and then married at the church.
Several years later Bill bumped into Brian and after they greeted one another, Brian looked at Bill and said ‘I just want to thank you for all those times you walked across the soccer field and opened yourself up. Really….. Thanks’
A walk across the football pitch. God can use even the simplest things in the process of reaching out with his love. I wonder how alert we are to him and what he may be asking of us even this week – and how far we may be willing to go for the One who gave everything he had out of love for us..
May God bless you richly even this week.