I love taking pictures. Especially of outdoor sports (but only when my kids are somewhere on the playing field).

After I click, click, click the game away, I love the fun of popping my memory card into the computer to see what I captured. Will any of the pictures be in focus? Did I at least get one good shot of the kid who didn’t play much today? Did I get the shot of the amazing goal in the first seconds of the game?  One never knows…

I’m always pleasantly surprised when anything good shows up on the screen–which probably is the definition of an amateur photographer.

My favorite shots are the ones which show intense emotion–with kids straining as hard as they possibly can, completely focused on the ball…

I especially love it when I catch an intense player (my son, in this case) accomplishing some mighty act of valor…

 
But what I also love is looking at the people in the background. The contrast between the intense soccer field action and the sideline pass-time activity is funny to me. Even funnier is imagining what these people are saying or thinking.
Take a look at a few of the people on the sidelines from this weekend.
In this one, notice the little girl with the pony tail. As the soccer player presses forward, full throttle toward the goal, she’s got her back to the net, preferring the little sideline one-on-one game, going on over by the fence…
As this kid has the biggest moment of his life so far–about to score… the guy in the background is checking his messages. Oh! He forgot he has a dentist appointment on Monday.
While this player (yes, that’s my son) looks like he’s about to attack somebody, the little girl with sunglasses hangs out with Daddy, wondering if there will be time for her to finish her movie before bedtime. 

While this player (yes, also my son) runs full speed toward the ball, the lady on the sidelines leans forward to find out what her grandkids would like for dinner. Grandpa’s on the ground because it was easier to sit on the grass than listen to little Jimmy whine about the pokey grass.

 As this player tries to juke his opponent, a dad strangles his son in the background (far right) because he drained the cell phone battery, playing Minecraft.

 And as this player uses his fancy footwork through the legs of his opponent, a little kid throws a fit (far right) because his mom said there is another soccer game after this one.

What’s so funny to me is the parallel activity. The most intense battle of the century (for the moment) is being played out right next to the guy choking his kid and the grandma collecting dinner requests.

Not nearly as funny, these people in the background remind me of myself: I’m absorbed with petty disagreements. I want to strangle someone. I’m checking my messages. I’m thinking about what movie I want to watch. My schedule makes me want to throw a fit. I’m fixated on, you know, the important stuff in life.

But in a parallel spiritual world, there’s a battle raging… and I’m completely oblivious. If you could take a picture that captured the spiritual and physical worlds that I live in, it would look like the contrast in these pictures.

There’s a heated battle between ranking spiritual officers who are placing wagers on what happens next (Ephesians 6:12). God coaches me to lay aside little offenses which trip me up and fix my eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2). He urges me to strain forward in my struggle against arrogance and self absorption (Phil. 3: 13-14).

He says to get in the game.

Get on my knees.

 Keep my focus zoomed in on what’s truly important–not sideline distractions.

 “…straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Phil. 3:13-14)

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