of soccer and salvation

For six years, I’ve loved soccer. I love being outside on freezing fall mornings to run up and down the field with my teammates. I love the intensity of the offense and the excitement of scoring the goal. I love the camaraderie between the team at each practice and game.

With every home school sport I’ve played, our coach has always reminded us that our Christian life is much more important than soccer or basketball. Each year they point out to us that though we enjoy these sports for fun, they can be symbols of our spiritual walk. We’ve all heard the verses about finishing the race, fighting the good fight, or running the race set before us. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that just as the desired outcome of our life is to go to Heaven, the object of the sport is to win the game.

There are many parallels that we’ve all been able to conclude. But last night at our first soccer practice, I saw a few more parallels that had never occurred to me before, and wanted to share them with you. Maybe they’ll encourage you in a part of your life, or maybe they’ll help you understand something more fully, or maybe they’ll just add a bit more meaning to the next time you play soccer. In any case here are two of them:

  1. Control, Not Speed.

“Now, I want you to dribble your ball and weave through the cones,” Coach Wakefield instructed us. “Now remember, the point of this exercise is not to get through as fast as you can. You could take all practice for all I care! What I want you to do is keep control of your ball, because if you’re out of control in a game, the defender will take the ball! But if you have control, even if you’re slow, you’ll be able to take it right in.” Aha! Shelby’s brain clicks on. It’s just like our Christian life! Often our lives are busy and rushed and we try to just fit God on with the rest of the things we’re doing. We’re speeding through life so fast that we don’t take time to really dig deep into God and, just like soccer, this gives the enemy the perfect opportunity to destroy us. Yet if our focus is not on everything around us, we are still and quiet with God, and focusing solely on what it truly important (which is knowing God and doing His will), then the enemy will never have room to get into our lives.

But the coach wasn’t finished yet. “Now once you get to the end of the cones, I want you to sprint back while you dribble. You can go fast now because you have developed your control.” I think you can come to the same conclusion I did. As we learn more about God, learn to walk more in His ways, and learn to love Him, soon we will be fully equipped to run the race set before with all we have.

  1. The Defender Will Come Up

The next drill was laid out like this: we all stood in a line in front of the goal, and when we came to the front of the line, we would kick our ball to the coach, who would then kick it back for us to shoot into the net. I was pretty excited, as offensive drills are my favorite by far.

I kicked the ball to the coach and ran forward. He kicked it more off to my right and I jogged around it, gauging how to come at it for the best shot. “Run, Shelby!” the coach called. “If you don’t run to it, the defender will come up!” Bingo! Another light bulb moment! We’re the offensive players with the purpose of our life being to score the goal. And just like our Christian life, sometimes we get tired or distracted and slow down as we chase after Truth. We lose sight of the real purpose of life, and start thinking more about how to get through it most comfortably. We forget about the real goal as our vision narrows to our feet. And as soon as we lose our focus and slow ourselves down, there’s the perfect opportunity once again for the enemy to come and take away what we have worked for. We can’t ever let down our guard. The Devil will take advantage of every chance he gets.

With this in mind, I sprinted up to the ball and sent it flying into the goal.

2 John 1:8 – “Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.”


  1. Way to go girl! Love this post, though I don't enjoy soccer incredibly i have played and can draw the same parallels! God makes it very clear that our lives are to be active which is why sports are such great metaphors.

  2. I love sports analogies. :)
    Thank you Shelby! Those are two new ones.

    Running hard,


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