Today Is Not an Exhibition

In the past two weeks, we've taken our girls to two exhibition games. Two weeks ago we saw the U.S. women's national soccer team play Canada, and last night we took the girls to a National Hockey League pre-season game. We enjoyed both games, but I discovered something about exhibition matches. They don't mean anything, and the players know it.

Other than to the few players on each team who are fighting for roster spots, an exhibition game means nothing. It's just a practice. The players are keeping their skills sharp for when they play a real game where points will be awarded for the win. Most of the time, the team even benches some of its good players to keep them well for the real game. Hope Solo and Abby Wambach -- two of the biggest women's soccer stars -- only played half the game we saw. Anze Kopitar and Simon Gagne, two of the biggest stars on the L.A. Kings, weren't even in the building last night.

While it was fun to see a level of play in both soccer and hockey that we don't often see in our town, it was clear from the play on the field and the ice that players weren't giving it their all. In hockey, the players didn't hit as hard or hustle as much. The soccer game seemed to be played at half speed, especially in the second half.

While players in sports need practice games to warm up for the season or to keep their skills sharp, everyday life is not an exhibition game. Every day matters to God, and it should matter to us. He needs us to play the game of life hard every day. Ephesians 5:15-16 says "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." The opportunities we get today to make a difference in someone's life may not come around again tomorrow. Each day is precious, and we need to make the most of it.

God places people in our lives so we can share His love with them. It may be a word of encouragement to a discouraged child or taking dinner to a sick friend that makes the difference in someone else's life. Every day God places people in our path that need to see that God loves them. We are the messengers of that love.

Encourage your kids to look for people in their lives each day who need their help. Teach your children by example by making stopping to help someone else a priority. It may not be convenient, and it may mess up your plans, but God put that person in your life at that time for a reason. You may be the difference between someone finding God or turning away.

Don't walk away from opportunities to shower others with God's love through compassion and caring. Because life is not an exhibition, and you may not get another chance.