Lord, I praise you for youth sports,
For the excitement of getting that first uniform.
A t-shirt with his name and a bright yellow, too big hat,
Too big for his head, but not for rocks and flowers and already chewed gum.
Thank you for the joy of finding that his friend is on the team.
Which means a mother for me to talk to in the stands.
And thanks for the smiles when the ball goes in the net, and I am watching,
Or the healthy snacks that turn out to be a can of Coke and a Twinkie.
Lord, forgive me when I grumble about Saturday morning games, and rain delays.
When I complain about fields across town, and being two places at once.
When I groan at the prospect of slicing a dozen oranges for halftime,
And sigh at the pile of sweaty uniforms by the washer and the mud-caked cleats by the door.
Don’t let me forget that image of him kneeling in the outfield, picking dandelions,
Or that ear-to-ear grin when he received that first plastic trophy.
Etch on my heart forever the sight of that big glove on the wrong hand,
And the high-pitched sound of little ball players “chattering” in the field.
But, Lord, if it’s possible, take away that picture of my son sitting on the bench,
Eager and bright, waiting for the coach to call him into the game.
And later in the contest, the same young man, slumped and defeated,
Still on the bench as the buzzer sounds and the cheers go up.
Oh, wipe away his hurt and my hurt, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
These are just youth sports, aren’t they? When did the rules change?
Help me to find the words to convince him of his worth,
To encourage him, and assure him, and love him.
And forgive me, Lord, for my anger, product of a child’s broken heart.
For my envy and petty jealousy, my bitterness and my spite.
Help me, in renewed wholeness, to depend on You, the real coach,
The One who leads us to victory in this difficult game of life. Amen.