You know, I wasn’t planning this post. But I saw something today that literally took my breath away and squeezed some unexpected salty tears from these jaded eyes. Spontaneous tears….they’re the best kind don’t you think?
The Rugby World Cup Final was played out between old rivals Australia and New Zealand this past weekend. Now, if like me you’re not much of a sports fan, don’t stop reading at this point. This is not about sport.
I know next to nothing about Rugby Union and wasn’t one of the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who rose in the early hours to watch. Back to the game – it was won by defending champions New Zealand 34 to 17. (Apparently New Zealand broke records by winning three consecutive Rugby World Cups – well done kiwis!)
At the end of the game the New Zealand team did the customary victory lap, during which a young excited fan leapt from his seat, ran towards the team, and was heavily tackled to the ground by a rather burly security guard, (who was of course just doing his job).
A player named Sonny Bill Williams, better known as SBW, saw what happened, lifted the boy up and proceeded to protectively escort him back to his family in the stands, just as if he was his own child. He then removed the World Cup gold medal he’d just received from around his neck and placed it around the neck of the little boy.
You can watch the scene unfold on this short You Tube video:
So why am I sharing this on Bread for the Bride? Because God is so desperately in love with us He uses such everyday ‘moments’ to prophetically reveal His all-consuming Love in ways that reach us just where we are. And ninety-nine per cent of the time we don’t recognize Him right there in the moment with us.
Look at the rugby hero and the child together: the man wholly focused on protecting, delivering, befriending and restoring, covering the child’s head with team colours, arms sheltering him from over excited journalists, and finally bestowing on him a symbol of himself that only he and no other could ever give away.
Now look at the child: one moment in full flight, the next not knowing what hit him, hardly believing his eyes when the hero steps in to rescue him. Look at the way he reaches up in total, unquestioning trust, just knowing SBW is not going to push him out-of-the-way, shame him, or reject him. In wide-eyed adoration, he clings to SBW, chattering with excitement, hardly believing he is where he is – in the arms of this strong hero, welcomed and safe.
Then, finally, savor the priceless look on the boy’s face as he realises his hero has bestowed on him something uniquely of himself, something that cannot be bought, something that will bind the two of them together for the rest of both their lives.
Yes, there are those who may snicker, cynically mumbling about publicity stunts, unhealthy hero-worship, and ‘he didn’t need that medal anyway’. Or we could go digging for possible dirt on SBW’s past life, or self-righteously complain about parents who don’t control their kids. There are way too many ways to justify our embarrassment at having God show up at a worldly football game.
Or we can, with both hands, humbly seize this visual opportunity God has given us to understand the gospel afresh.
I am not ashamed of the spontaneous tears that filled my eyes when I came across this scene in my news feed. I am not apologetic because I have momentarily equated a muscular, imperfect New Zealand athlete with Christ. And most of all I am not sorry that I can’t help seeing the deepest need of every one of us in that child’s wondering, adoring face.
When I look into the face of Christ, I want to be that child.
When I realise the height, width and breadth of the random grace of my inheritance in Him, I want to be that child.
When I sense His proximity, calling me through the latticework, I want to be that child – leaping with innocent, abandoned trust into the unknown with Him, whatever the cost.
God dares to turn up in our moments, even in the chaos of a shouting throng out for a few hours relief from the aching questions of their every day lives. He chooses to be there. In the moment. Telling us His story, singing His Song over us, inviting us to the biggest victory party going.
Emmanuel. God With Us. Glory!!
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2015 and beyond. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.