Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It was a sound he’ll never forget, and it still gives him nightmares.

To say that our oldest son, Eric, is competitive would be an understatement. You name the sport, he wanted not only to play it, but to excel in it. Football, baseball, soccer—he loved them all.

Eric and his younger brother Derek both played competitive soccer. One Saturday Derek’s team was scheduled to play right after Eric’s, and on the same field. All the guys on Derek’s team knew Eric, so even as they were warming up they kept an eye on the game in progress. That certainly motivated Eric to run faster and work harder to put the ball in the net. Because of that, he had a great game going, but the other team still led 1-0 going into the final minutes.

When the other team fouled, Eric’s teammate sent a ball arcing towards the net. Adrenaline pumping, Eric looked up and saw his chance. He dribbled around the last defender and found himself going one-on-one with the goalie. Derek’s team stood watching, cheering his certain goal. Eric went wide, cutting the angle off the goalie, and shot—a powerful, curling rocket.

DOINK! It was the sound of the soccer ball as it ricocheted back off the crossbar. Falling at the feet of the defender, the opportunity was lost.

soccer goal missed

Eric was so very close. Just a fraction off, but it meant that the goal never happened. Not only did his team lose that game, but the embarrassment of missing in front of Derek’s team was heartbreaking for him. But that’s the rule of soccer; if the ball doesn’t go into the net it doesn’t matter how good a shot or how close it was. It doesn’t count.

As God of the universe He will accept nothing less than perfection. Now, we all miss that mark! Some of us miss it by a little, some by a lot. Some fail very publicly, others fail privately, in the deep, hidden things of the heart. And it doesn’t matter which it is, God sees all of it. If the goal is perfection none of us will achieve it.

Which is why I’m grateful that God, in His richest mercy, allows another way. He doesn’t keep score of our failures. Instead, if we come to Him in genuine sorrow for our sin, He offers forgiveness. His promise is that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. “ (1 John 1:9)

No matter what I have done, no matter how far I have wandered, nothing is beyond the reach of His grace, for it is “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning...” (Lamentations 3:22-23). He not only forgives us, but “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12).

Unlike the sound of “doink” as Eric’s goal was missed, I hear ““Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Romans 4:7-8)

Which sound would you rather have ringing in your ears?

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:1-2, 10

Further reflection:

1. Describe an experience where you sinned, either publicly or privately.

2. Did you go to God for His forgiveness for it?

3. How did receiving forgiveness feel?

Father, I know how often I fail, and how far short I fall of Your standard of perfection. But I also know that You love me, and are always ready to forgive. May the time between my sin and coming to You for forgiveness be short, that I might not live with regret.

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