I wasn’t that great of an athlete, but the way Coach Duran spoke to us during practice stirred something in my heart. You all have a spot on this team and are on this team for a reason he would say during practices. We were a ragtag soccer team that hadn’t played together before and our division was dominated by a team with a three-year winning legacy.  Their offense was unstoppable and their defense impenetrable. A goal hadn’t been scored against them for two of those three years!

Yet, here we were getting ready to challenge Goliath. Coach Duran made me think it was possible, though seemingly a long-shot. He didn’t support, love, encourage, or inspire conditionally. Rather, he gave himself to the team in ways that were totally selfless. Yes, he was a perfectionist, but he never gave the impression that you had to earn anything from him.

I was on the team regardless of  my previous performance or lack thereof. Somehow, that unconditional assurance ignited a passion to destroy the competition. We were already winners because we had the undying love and belief of a coach that truly had our backs and best interests at heart.

The way that Coach Duran believed in us is like the unconditional love that’s been given to us as believers in Christ. We stand in the victory of a God who already loves us! We don’t stand in the victory we’ve achieved on our own!

This is why Paul encourages his readers: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

But what are those schemes? The central one is that we have to do something to earn the love that’s already been given to us! Earlier in Ephesians Paul’s prayer is that “the eyes of your heart may be enlighten in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,” (Ephesians 1:18-19) and “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

As he says in another letter: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39) No matter what, remember you are a child of God. It’s only when we come to believe this truth of who we are that amazing breakthroughs can happen in our life! We don’t have to fight for the victory. Rather, we fight from the victory!

That soccer season we fought our way to the division finals, and faced off against the three-time division champions — only to lose 2-1. Our small victory was that we managed to score against their impenetrable defense. But it didn’t matter. Coach Duran had taught us all something that we’d never forget.

You don’t have to earn your spot. It’s been given.

By Ryan Lunde
Pastor of Young Adults

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