There was always some type of sports to be played as a child. Whether it was dodge ball, backyard baseball, kickball, or touch football I tried them all. I can remember always waiting in the crowd of children for the two best players (we called them captains) to call my name and hoping that I was not picked last. I was waiting to be CHOSEN. I must admit because of my lack of sports skills I was often chosen last. Still that never deterred me from giving it my all.
Today I am so thankful that we serve a God that has chosen us and chosen us first. We don’t have to wait for other names to be called or picked before us because HE has chosen us from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6). Each one of us has a specific purpose on this earth that only we can accomplish. God has chosen every one of us and He has a plan and purpose for our lives. I no longer have that fear of not being chosen or especially being chosen last because I know God, the creator of the universe, the one who hung the stars and knows them by name, the one who’s very thoughts of me are more than the sands of the sea, has chosen and called me to Him.
Now back to the childhood memories of playing sports. Once the captain chose you it was your job to do whatever he said to do. After all he was the best player, and the captain, so it was of great importance to listen to him and do what he said if we wanted to win the game. Just like those pickup games we played years ago it is still my duty to listen to the Captain, Jesus Christ. He speaks to us constantly and if we want to win we must do what He says. Now we won’t always get it right as I often did not do what the captain of the team said or at least I did not do it the way he wanted it done or as good as he wanted it to be. I tried my best but messed up and all I was asking for was forgiveness and another chance to play. However, there was not much forgiveness on that ballfield. There was yelling and screaming, name calling and often fights over who said what and who was the best and I always seemed to be on the losing team and ultimately ended up holding the bag as the “reason” my team lost. I would replay the game over and over in my mind believing that if I had just done this or that we might have won and I could be a hero instead of a zero, but that chance never came.
Those childhood games we played are much like the life that many of us live. In this life we may miss the call, we may get it wrong, we may not do what God has told us to do. We live with regrets and replay the scenarios in our minds over and over hoping for a different outcome but it does not change our reality. We often go and do things our own way but the one thing that was not on that ballfield of child’s play is always in the heart of God; FORGIVENESS. I am so grateful for the forgiveness of God and His mercy to give us another chance even when we blow it big time. God is always right there to pick us up off the dirt, dust us off, and encourage us to give it another try. We don’t have to wish things different we just have to ask God for forgiveness and try again. (1 John 1:9) For that I am forever grateful. Praise God that He does not condemn or shame us or put us on the “no pick” list because of our past.
This “no pick” list was where I often found myself when attempting to join the boys in childhood sports. If being chosen last was not bad enough there were times when I would not get chosen at all. They would either have enough boys to play or would play without me simply because they felt they had a better chance to win without me, even if they were one man short. I just was not worth the risk to the captains of the teams because of my prior mess ups and failures as a ball player.
The boys simply gave up on me, but God did not. They were not willing to forgive and forget and restore me to another position on the team, but God is. God is willing to take that risk on you and me even when we mess up and blow it. Why? Because He has called us, chosen us (John 15:16) and has a plan for our lives (Ephesians 1:3-6 / Jeremiah 29:11).
Those days are long gone now and the fear of being left out is a thing of the past but I remember how I felt when I was rejected. I always thought that if I just had one more chance I could do it right and be accepted. Years later I have realized that the one who holds it all never rejected me but accepted me even with all my mess ups and faults. Not only has He accepted me but He has made me His child, and put me on His team as a starter. Praise God!!!!
Accept and believe that He has chosen you today, that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), you are His child and no matter where you find yourself in this ballgame we call life, whether you have blown it a little or blown it a lot, you can find joy in knowing that Jesus Christ has chosen you. He has called you, He loves you unconditionally, He forgives you and He stands ready to restore you because he has a plan for you that will change the world.
Pastor Russ Harper
Hope Church Newport News