My son called a few days back and casually mentioned that he had two intramural soccer games on the weekend. He played for his university for a time but was now enjoying the 'fun' of soccer again while playing in their intramural league. So when he unexpectedly mentioned the games, something made me stop in my tracks. I hadn't seen any of his intramural games (most parents don't), but something about this was different.
The Lord spoke to my heart in that tiny moment on the phone right there in the kitchen - the pause. "You need to go."
It didn't make a ton of sense on many levels. My son's college is 3 ½ hours from where we live - not a hard drive, but one that takes intention, especially on a Sunday afternoon when you have to be at work early on Monday morning. It would have to be a turnaround trip—7 hours in one day. The games were only 45 minutes each. I was tired and needed an afternoon to catch up. However, against all reasoning, I called him early that morning and told him I was coming. I had no idea where the fields were or even a clear picture of when the last game would be over, but I was going to go and asked him to send the address.
When I arrived several hours later, he ran to meet me in the parking lot, armed with a blanket he had taken off his own bed. Shaking his head in disbelief and grinning from ear to ear, he said, "Mom - what are you doing!? I can't believe you're here! Were you just bored or something?" he laughed. "You'll freeze! Here, take this blanket." My son seemed rather adult-ish as he wrapped me up and made sure I was warm enough, as I had done for him so many times before. He then sent me off to the stands just as the game started.
No, I wasn't bored with nothing to do; I had everything to do. But I knew it was important.
My son was in his senior year in college, getting ready to graduate in just a few months and getting married a few months after that. Before I left the house, I looked at the calendar. I realized this intramural season would be over soon, and based on what the next few months held; this could quite possibly be the last time I would see him play... not only at his school for an intramural game but maybe... ever. He's chased that ball since he was four, and I've seen more games and sat on more sidelines than I could ever begin to count in those 16 years, so it wasn't for lack of attending. I know he will always love the beautiful game and could possibly play more, but I know that this might be the end of an era with graduation and marriage and starting a whole new life in an entirely new city on the horizon.
Everything ends. Sadly, sometimes we're not even aware when the 'last time' happens until it's already over. So if this was it, I wanted to be sure that I saw the last shot.
So I went. Watching him play those two 45 min games was like poetry. No, He isn't the best soccer player ever to live, although he does have talent. No, His team isn't the top team, although they did work well together. But I got to watch as God put the final touches on a story He's been writing my son's whole life, using his feet and that ball as the pen and ink. Today as he played and as I watched him turn what could be those final pages, I could see the joy in his face as God strung the last words together with every strike of the ball. God was writing what could be the end of this story, and I was there to read every last word, all the way to the epilogue.
I didn't take a single picture, video, or even cheer from the stands. Instead, without a thought of my mounting to-do list or the drive I still had to make to get back home that night, I sat wrapped in his blanket and, with eyes fixed on my favorite 20-year-old, watched him do, as if in slow motion, what I had seen him do over and over and over and over for 16 years. Dribble. Step over. Sneaky foul. Clear the ball. Throw-in. Serve up a free-kick. Encourage the team. Help the player up. Hold the backline. Shoot... and score.
On a small intramural field in the shadow of and just to the south of his university stadium where he had played the year before, I was there as he poetically put the ball in the back of the net one more time. Then as he celebrated only with a small fist pump and very little pomp and circumstance, I watched as God put a final punctuation mark on that chapter of his story.
I'm grateful for that pause. I'm grateful for listening at that moment in light of all the times I haven't. I learned that sometimes doing what God asks you to do doesn't make much sense. The timing might feel inconvenient. The conditions where you're going might not be favorable. You might even feel unclear about how you should get there and what will happen when you arrive. More than likely, it will be just outside of the spotlight and just south of the glory of where you thought God would take you. But if we trust His voice to lead us, and even if the journey is long, we can count on Him to be faithful, wrap us up in His very own love, and celebrate with us as He writes another chapter in our story.
"Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should." - Psalm 90:12