A highlight in the week is watching Cameron play soccer. When he has a good game I probably find it just as satisfying as he does, if not more. I have heard coaches say that they are far more passionate about watching the team win than when they actually played. There is a sense in which the players represent parents and coaches on the pitch. The coach no doubt feels that a winning team reflects his ability to teach the game. A father is pleased that his son scored a cracking goal or produced a game saving tackle. On the other hand when things don’t go well there can be feelings of frustration and even embarrassment.
It is a common occurrence at games for parents and sometimes coaches to respond quite poorly to the players. One coach was recently stood down due to the aggressive and insulting way he treated his team (under 13’s). I know of a parent who would wait in the car rather than watching the team struggle to win. One father said to me a few weeks ago after a gruelling 3-1 loss that he had given up and was disinterested.
As Christians we are God’s children. We represent Him before the world and before one another. How often do we let Him down; we fail to adequately demonstrate His character; in fact we misrepresent His character. How often do we overlook or even ignore opportunities to do something good in His name? How often do we give ourselves to the same old sins and barely resist? Surely God has every right to feel like a frustrated coach or parent. Surely He would be justified if He washed His hands of us all. But He doesn’t.
Psalm 103:8-10, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities”.
As a Father, God does get angry with His children and disciplines them. Yet He is patient and merciful in His dealings with us. We never feel the full force of His displeasure and He doesn’t turn away from us because we fail to measure up. Psalm 103:14, “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” Thankfully He is not like we are; He is not unrealistic; He is not demanding; He is not harsh. He is a perfect Father. May those of us who are parents reflect upon this. And may we all as believers use our experience of His tender kindness to live more faithfully and represent Him more accurately.