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“Jeremy, that was great!” “What a shot!” “I can’t believe we won!” The Tigers soccer team gathered around Jeremy, all chattering at the same time.
“Wow! Jeremy, are you going to play soccer when you grow up?” asked Justin. “You could be a superstar and play on TV.”
Jeremy grinned. He was thrilled he’d scored the winning goal. To celebrate, the whole team and their families met for pizza and ice cream. Jeremy went to sleep that night dreaming of soccer and fans cheering his name.
All that week, Jeremy couldn’t stop thinking about soccer. All he wanted to do was play soccer. He would come home from school and run straight outside to practice. Then his mom would have to call him in and remind him to do his chores and homework. “Jeremy,” she’d say, “don’t make soccer into an idol. There are other important things you need to pay attention to.”
Near the end of the week, Jeremy came home from school, dropped his books on the kitchen table, and headed outside to practice. He was getting ready for a hard shot when his sister, Emily, came outside. “Jeremy,” she called, “Mom wants you to come in and get your books off the table.”
Jeremy kicked the ball as hard as he could. It went wild and flew toward the fence—bonk! “Now see what you made me do?”
“Huh? I didn’t do anything,” Emily replied.
“Yes, you did. You made me miss. Stars like me have to concentrate and focus on the goal.”
“You better get in here and focus on your homework, young man!”
Jeremy turned, and there was Mom staring at him and tapping her foot. He smiled sheepishly and followed her inside. He grabbed his school books off the table and then trudged up the stairs to his room. Jeremy sighed. “I don’t think she understands. I’ve gotta keep practicing so I can be a great soccer player.”
At dinner that night, Mom asked, “Did you get your homework finished?”
“No. I still have more math. Then I have to start on my book report.”
Mom looked at Dad and frowned. “Jeremy,” said Dad, “soccer is great fun, but you can’t let it become an idol that takes you away from other responsibilities. No more soccer until you’ve finished all of your homework, understand?”
“But tomorrow’s Saturday,” Jeremy cried. “I was planning on practicing all day.”
“Not until your homework is finished, and it’s done well,” said Dad firmly.
Jeremy nodded. “Yes, sir.”
All day Saturday, Jeremy worked on his math homework, read his book, and wrote his report. Finally, he finished! He threw down his pencil right when Mom called everyone to dinner. By the time dinner was over, the sun was going down, and it was too dark to even see the goal.
Disappointed, Jeremy joined his family, who was playing a board game, but his mind wasn’t on the game; all he could think about was soccer and being a superstar.
“Jeremy, it’s our turn.” Emily nudged him. “Pay attention.”
Jeremy rolled the dice and moved his game piece.
“No, Jeremy. Don’t move there,” said Emily. “Now look what you did; we lost the game.”
“Sorry, Emily. I was thinking about something else,” Jeremy explained.
The next day was Sunday. Jeremy got up early. He knew he should get ready for church, but that could wait. He wanted to practice heading the ball. He hurried outside and kicked a couple of goals to warm up. Then he tossed the ball up and tried to smack it with his head—bonk! It bounced back up in the air, and he ran to get under it for a second bump.
Because he was looking up at the ball, Jeremy didn’t see the big flower bush looming before him. He fell headlong into the bush, scattering little flowers everywhere. “Ahh!” Crash—clunk—bonk!
The soccer ball came down, bounced off his head, and rolled away in the dirt. But Jeremy was caught in the leaves and branches of the shrub he crashed into. He tried to turn so he could stand up, but the branches had snagged him and wouldn’t let go. Jeremy was stuck!
Jeremy struggled against the branches and leaves, twisting this way and that way. “At least it’s not a rose bush with thorns,” he mumbled as he tried to stand.
“Jeremy! Where are you?” Dad called from the patio.
“Over here!” he yelled. “But I’m stuck!”
Dad ran to Jeremy. He bent the branches back that were holding Jeremy captive and pulled him free.
“Phew! Thanks, Dad,” Jeremy said as he brushed off the dirt and flower petals.
“How did you end up in a bush?” Dad asked.
Jeremy was embarrassed as he explained what had happened.
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay,” Dad chuckled. “But you’re a mess! Go get a shower—quickly. We’re going to be late for church.”
Jeremy moved as fast as he could to get ready, but he made his family late for church.
After church, Justin ran over to say hi. “Hey,” said Justin, “how come you’ve got so many scratches on your arms?”
Jeremy told Justin how he had crashed into the bush that morning trying to bump the soccer ball with his head.
“Wow, Jeremy,” Justin said. “I don’t think I want to be a superstar if it’s going to hurt like that—it’s not that important!”
Jeremy thought for a minute. “You’re right. Soccer is a lot of fun, but I’ve learned that I also have to pay attention to other things like church and homework and family time.”
“And flower bushes!” Justin added with a laugh.
“Yeah, especially flower bushes.”
Justin & Jessie show kids how the Bible applies to real life! These weekly stories are part of Answers Bible Curriculum, our full-Bible, chronological Sunday school program for all ages.