Here in South Africa we found ourselves in the midst of the World Cup Fifa fever. The crowds, flags and street vendors selling their wares were part and parcel of this colourful time, and were heralded along by the noise of the infamous vuvuzela. This plastic trumpet-like instrument was available in a myriad of colours and sizes, beaded, painted, plain or patterned. They all, however, had the same effect – to produce an unmelodious din wherever it was blown.
The corporate noise level produced was sufficient to distract even the most ardent of players, and some of the teams taking part said that they found it very hard to stay focused. But it added ambience to the games – or so I’m told! The dynamic of this noisy beast – intended to encourage the players into a frenzy of goal scoring activity – made me begin to think of our lives as Christians in the ‘Big World’ out there.
We are similar to the teams taking part in the soccer - different cultures speaking different languages, with different tactics, yet pursuing the same end – to serve our Lord. We need to keep our eye on the goal and press onwards in order to win the prize. We just couldn’t make it alone and desperately need support from those on the same team. When we get tripped up by the enemy we need to get on our feet again.
The enemy fights dirty and often we saw soccer players being deliberately tripped, pulled back or an outright foul committed in order to stop the progress being made. Does that sound familiar?
The vuvuzela was another tactic – although a little more subtle (as it wasn’t devoted to any one team), but it often had an extraordinary impact on the players – causing them to miss hearing a team mate, or even the whistle.
So how were the players to cope with this ‘new’ distraction? By paying attention to what had been spoken in the privacy and quiet place in the change rooms, by drawing on the experience of practices and previous matches, by watching what the coach gestured, and by relying on the other team members.
Jesus said ‘I only do what I see the Father doing’ – He kept His eye on the Father at all times. He was never an independent ‘player’, but rather was so focussed on Father that He never missed a beat, got tripped up, or ‘lost the ball’. We need to be ‘imitators of Christ’. In the noise and bustle of our lives, with all the things we could be doing, and things labelled ‘urgent’, we need to be very close to Fathers’ heart, inclining our ears to His voice so we don’t spend energies on things that are not on His agenda.
Spend quiet times with Father, read the word, hear His heart, and when you arise and enter into your day, don’t forget that still, small voice and clear guiding. What we receive in private will steady us and keep us focussed - whatever storms come to us. And when we’re in community with a like-minded team around us, we’ll succeed as we undertake for and support one another.
Prayer: Dear Father God, as the urgent and important things crowd in on my day, help me to resist temptation to do everything I can. I ask for wisdom to stop long enough to hear Your heart on the issues I face, so that Your peace would reign, and Your still small voice would lead me in the way I should go. Amen.
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