Did you watch the game and experience the rollercoaster of emotions as England played Russia? With Wayne Rooney captaining the young squad it seems like so much could or should have been different! Hope comes in with every corner, every penalty, every free-kick and hope drained away equally quickly in stoppage time! Nobody said it would be easy to support England.
I don’t know if you have noticed but there is a football tournament on at the moment. Euro 2016 kicked off on Friday and as I am not interested in "the beautiful game" I figured it wouldn’t affect me. I was wrong because I have a step-son who wants to watch every minute of it that he can. He’s 9 and for as long as I have known him his passion has always been Doctor Who, but over the last year or so he has developed a love for football, particularly Chelsea.
I decided that it would be good for us to spend time together and watch the first England match on the TV. It was all looking so good, according to the commentators England were playing well. They were as far as I could tell, but I know nothing about football. If you have any interest then you know the outcome of the match against Russia. It was looking so promising until Russia equalised in stoppage time.
Prior to this commentator Clive Tyldesley had said something that rang true, something along the lines of “nobody said it was easy to follow the England football team.” That certainly seems to be the case. This is not the first time that I have been in the situation watching England play. I have on occasion been sucked into following the progress in the international tournaments and time after time I have heard the manager, the players and the pundits tell me that this is a game that they couldn’t lose, or that this tournament was going to be the one to bring the cup home, because after all “Football’s Coming Home” isn’t it?
Time and again you end up feeling let down. Let down by a player, or the team, or by the ref, or by the people who talked the team up to you in the first place and made you hope. Oh it’s not just in football either. What about Tennis? Year after year Tim Henman got close, and then superseded by Andy Murray. Yes he won Wimbledon, but that was once after all the years of dashed expectations! Oh and following my favourite Formula One driver David Coulthard right from the start of his F1 career, from the year the fabulous Ayrton Senna was tragically killed giving DC his first proper chance. Every year the press said he was fitter, stronger and more mentally capable. They made me believe he could win the World Championship, sadly for DC it was never to be!
So what does this teach me? To be careful with where I put my hope. In reality these are just small things, sport is only one small part of life. My hope is in God alone because He will never let me down. He fulfils His promises and at every step of life He is dependable. In reality every day I let Him down in my walk and witness I don’t live up to what I want me to be, let alone His values.
I have often heard the phrase “nobody said it was easy to follow Jesus” but actually it is.I don’t have to try and live up to the perfect model of humanity that was set by Jesus.
So often people will judge us when we stumble and fall. We are told that “we are the only Bible that some people will read” or “your neighbours know you are a Christian and they are watching you to see what the difference is between you and them.” Well the difference is I am a sinner who knows that he could never measure up to God’s standard. I have been saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and it is that grace that means I don’t have to try and meet God’s standard of perfection – and I don’t have to try and attain the world’s either. Jesus has done it all already!
Yes I want to live the best I can before God, but He is very aware of my imperfections and failures and yet He has still called me to minister before Him in a small way. I have chosen to give my time and energy to do what I can to make an impact on this world for the Kingdom. When you put your hope in God then you can know freedom and joy. It’s not the rollercoaster of emotions in the same way watching the Euro’s will be, or Wimbledon or even to see if Lewis Hamilton can take his fourth title, it’s a deep settled joy and peace that when you have discovered and experienced it, it cannot be taken away.