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Keith Wishum: A love for losers

Unfortunately, he may remember his season for that one second.
Soccer savvy, older and bigger than the other players, always cool and controlled, he had been quickly elected to be the team leader without a vote ever being taken. He had not disappointed, leading his teammates in a glorious, near-perfect season. The only blemish on their record was a single loss to the team they now played for the league championship.
As previous matches with this team had been, this was a dogfight. Tied at the end of regulation, the match went into sudden-death overtime. A goal by either team would end the match and clinch the title.
The ball sailed in head high. As usual, he was on it. He moved easily and confidently. As he leaned in to head the ball back up-field – a routine play for him – a smaller teammate cut in front of him.
To avoid hurting his friend, he braked hard, throwing his hands up to avoid contact. As if in slow motion, his face froze in horror as the ball struck his hand. Dazed, he stepped aside as the referee awarded the opponent a penalty kick from inside the box. An easy goal and it was over.
He sat alone after the game, head buried under a jacket. In a world so wild about winning, how does a coach explain to a 15-year-old that a person is not measured by points on a scoreboard?
How do you convince the rest of us? We’ve all been there, trying to score points by being “successful,” by looking our best, by driving the latest or by living in the biggest. But there always seems to be someone with a higher score.
We need to know that our Father isn’t keeping score. Our value to him has nothing to do with what we’ve accomplished or how we failed. In fact, he loves us even while we rebel against him. He “demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (“enemies” in verse 10), Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
When you lose, remember that God loves you anyway. Your value to him is not related to your performance. He wants you on his team regardless of talent.
That soccer season is over. Life isn’t. God’s team is signing new players. You can make this roster. Don’t you want to?

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.