I invite you to imagine the moment the cross comes in. I hit it just right: a perfect volley. The ball was soaring towards the back of the net (if there was a net – 2 jumpers on the ground!). It was just seconds before the whistle would go for the end of break. We knew it. This was the winning goal. Team mates began to celebrate. Then suddenly I saw what was about to happen and there was nothing I could do to stop it. As the ball zoomed passed the helpless goalie, I could see Mrs Price and class 3. It would not have mattered if the classroom glass was bullet proof. That ball was going through. Smash! Glass everywhere. For a moment the playground fell silent …
Mrs Price seemed ungrateful for the gift of my football, and showed no appreciation for the glory of the goal or the wonder of the moment. She sent me to the infant school head mistress, Mrs Roberts. Mrs Roberts was built like a Sherman tank. Not knowing what to do with me, she sent me to the head of the whole school: Mr Dawkins. I walked across the playground towards his office as if I was walking the plank.
By now I had lost interest in explaining what a great goal it was and was ready to quietly reflect on all that he would share with me. Truth is, he didn’t really know what to do with me either and he sat back thinking of some kind of punishment that would help me understand that I should not have been so stupid or foolish. And this is what he said, (It was Monday or Tuesday) ‘I want you to come back on Friday at assembly time and I will deal with you then.’
‘Oh no not Friday! If I have to be punished: now please! If I have to face something let’s deal with it, get it over with. Don’t let me wait four whole days!’ I thought.
The judgement of Mr Dawkins hung over my head.
Friday eventually came by which time the fear of what was coming had taken over the whole of my 9 year old life. It had got bigger as the days went on. In fear and trembling I went to Mr Dawkins at assembly time. I was ready. Ready to face whatever I had to. At least it would be done then. But do you know what? He hardly gave me a moment’s attention: ‘Oh, it’s all over now,’ he said. ‘Just move the goals somewhere else.’ And with that he dismissed me. I was furious. I had not eaten or slept for 4 whole days and he swept me aside without a moment’s thought. Sly beggar!
I went home and my dad asked what happened. ‘Nothing happened!’ I exclaimed. ‘What on earth was that all about? I’ve been sweating buckets all week!’
‘Maybe the waiting was the punishment,’ my dad mused.
‘Oww Mr Dawkins you swine!’ I thought. Dad was right.
Some people live the whole of their lives like I did that week.
People live with a sense that there might be something to face and they don’t know what it is. It creates uncertainty, anxiety, stress and fear. It stops them living in the now because they are anxious of what might come.
Death is the ultimate ‘something to face.’ It can hang over us like that Friday morning hung over me. It’s a horrible way to live.
The gift of God is to live without fear (1 Corinthians 2:9).
No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.