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    by Susan McGrath

Who Wants the Ball?
Date Posted: October 15, 2005

America is obsessed with ballgames. No matter the season, there is a sport in full swing and athletes being paid millions of dollars to chase, hit, pass or catch a ball.

We teach our kids to catch before they can walk, and to hit and shoot as soon as they can stand. Not that it's a bad thing. They need to learn gross motor skills! We want to see them score, be the star. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. But if it doesn't happen, how does everyone deal with it?

The point is, we teach kids that it's a good thing to want the ball. In one football movie the coach asks the quarterback near the end of an important game, "What's it gonna be?" The quarterback replies, "I want the ball!"

The coach smiles and says, "Winners always do."

When I saw that scene on TV recently, it reminded me of an awesome sermon I heard at a youth conference a few years ago. The speaker was a former football player. He told of how important the sport had been to him and how an injury left him unable to play.

Then he explained how God had opened up the field for him in youth ministry, and that he was still able to carry the ball. Only this ball was more important than any football he had ever run with or passed.
This ball meant he was on the Lord's team and was going to carry and pass the gospel message to anyone who would receive it. While he spoke, he carried a football around the stage, sometimes putting it down, then picking it up again.

As he closed his message he asked, "Who wants the ball?"

I think the teens there were still reeling from the impact of the message (it hit hard), or some would have spoken up sooner. But before anyone on the floor replied, the speaker's son, who was about eight, came from backstage and said, "I do."

From the look on the speaker's face, it was obviously not a contrived moment. He handed his son the ball with tears in his eyes. Everyone cheered. I still remember that message and I'm sure many of the kids there that night do as well.

In my family the obsession is basketball, and I will encourage my kids to play if it's something they enjoy. I will tell them to be the best player they can be and strive for excellence.

But my prayer is that they want, above all, to play on the Lord's team. That they want to carry the message to others, live a life of encouragement, and win not just ballgames but souls to the Lord!

"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." -- 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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