Picking The Teams

It might have been September or early October, I can’t remember for sure, far too many years have transpired by now for me to be exactly confident of the date, I just know it was the Fall shortly after school started and I was in the fourth grade.

It was hot, the fields around the elementary school were dry, the grass on the hills devoid of any sign of green, save that of a few hearty Oak trees. I squinted as the sun beat down on me and my twenty or so classmates as we stood noisily in a row out on the blacktop. An occasional flash of yellow could be seen as the wings of a grasshopper would momentarily appear when the shadow of a child frightened it into flight.

Two boys, the most athletic of the class, were standing in front of us, carefully evaluating the pool of potential kickball teammates.

I hated this part.

The part where one after the other the kids would all be picked. Each Team Captain would take turns, back and forth, pointing to one of us to join their team. Soon there would only be one left.

Mostly that was me.

Just when I thought the experience would be over, the real dread and humiliation phase would begin. The conversation would typically shift from picking teammates to a negotiation between captains as to which team would be stuck with me.

This was worse than simply being last. I knew I was nothing but the kid with the crooked teeth, kinda gangly, and holding no appreciable athletic skills. I wasn’t particularly very good at anything, even academics. Eventually the teacher, against the visible and at times audible protest of one or both of the team captains, would put me on one of the teams.

Years later, I learned that unlike my elementary school team captains, when God is the team captain, He doesn’t  look at abilities or talents (Something that comes from God anyway), or how one outwardly appears. Rather he looks with great compassion at the heart.

Many examples of God’s choices are illustrated in the Scriptures. By any standards other than God’s, none of these individuals would have made the cut given the assignment that God had in mind for them. In one instance, God chose a young boy that was nothing but a simple shepherd, yet he grew up to become a great king (2 Samuel 2:1-7), God also chose a guy named Moses, who never led anything but sheep in a pasture, to lead God’s people out of captivity from the Egyptians. (Exodus 3) Later, God trusted a prostitute by the name of Rahab, who probably spent a lifetime never trusting anyone, to protect Joshua and his men from certain capture. (Joshua 2)

God continued to choose in like manner, when he came to us as Jesus. He chose lowly fishermen (Matthew 4:18-20), a disrespected tax collector (Mark 2:14), and others that society generally held in very low regard to serve as His early disciples. These twelve and ultimately countless others would serve as the engine that propelled the gospel of Christ into virtually every part of the world; the message of God’s gift of eternal life ultimately bridged virtually all social and economic barriers.

When I was sixteen, I finally figured out that I didn’t need to worry about abilities, talents, or good looks when it came to having a relationship with Jesus. In fact, there was nothing I had in my life that I could offer to God except myself and a willing heart.

I realized then, that Jesus had already picked me to join His team, He had all along. He had been knocking on the door of my heart (Revelation 3:20) and asking me to open that door and allow Him to enter my life. I had simply not opened the door. One evening I made the intentional choice to respond to His gentle knock, his open arms, and accepted the fullest expression of His love for me through his death and resurrection.

That evening, I prayed and surrendered my life to Jesus. I trusted that the work He did on the cross was sufficient, and in that moment I officially joined His team.

I’ve never looked back. It was and remains the best decision I’ve ever made. My eyes became open to the world in ways I had never thought possible. It was very much like having transitioned from seeing the world in black and white, to seeing the world from God’s perspective, in full color with a greater understanding. God has since done things in my life that I could never have done on my own; He has blessed me in more ways than I could count. And best of all, I have the assurance that I will get to experience Him for eternity!! Death and the fear of death no longer have mastery over my life.

Jesus said that he came to give us life and help us live it to the full. This is how God intended us to live our lives out.(John 10:10) Sure we’ll still face difficulties, troubles, heartaches, and all that comes with life, Jesus told us we would, but we’ll never be alone for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

In the final analysis, I came to realize that I was picked by an eternal team captain that leads His team to victory through his boundless love, compassion, and sacrifice of self.

Granting Ourselves Permission

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Sometimes in life we just need a friend to come along side and give us a word of encouragement.

I recently had the privilege to provide a few words of encouragement this week to a person that the Lord had been putting on my heart.

What a blessing it was to do so!

As part of those words, I shared a passage from Matthew 11:28 in which Jesus reminded me that He is available to each of us, to lay our burdens down at His feet, to receive the rest He is offering us.

Life has a way of tiring us out, and we often grow weary, not necessarily from a big single burden, although that can be the case, but often it is the weariness of carrying a bunch of small burdens.

When we carry those burdens, and if we’re the type of person that finds it hard to ask for help, we soon find ourselves pretty worn out. And worse yet, we start to feel like somehow we don’t measure up, or that we are in some way failing either ourselves or those closest to us, or we feel guilty because we can’t seem to handle whatever burden it is and we think we should be able to handle it.

Soon the joy in our heart is robbed.

If you are one of these people, let me start by sharing that you are perfectly normal. You heard me…perfectly normal.

Do you know why?

Because we are not perfect!

Sometimes we just need someone to take the initiative and give us permission to ask for a chance to rest.
Wait no longer…Jesus gives you that permission. In fact he offers you the rest you need with no guilt! No strings attached…

Do the burdens of life just go away? They can, but mostly they don’t. But if we can rest, He can give us the insight, grace, and strength to go beyond.

The Bible says that we are one in the body of Christ. (Rom 12:4) Meaning that each of us who have received Jesus into our lives are in fact part of Him. A healthy body has parts that work together to keep the whole functioning well.

If you’re weary, remember that Jesus has given you permission to rest with no guilt attached. Ask God to bring a person to mind that could give you some respite to, and then go ask them. Chances are they would be honored to help you.

If you’re the one being approached by another seeking rest, count it a great blessing that you can worship God by filling a practical need.

If God brings a person to your mind that needs rest…show them your love by sending them a note, let them know that they can claim the rest that Jesus offered, and then offer yourself as that person who can help them!

Do you know why rest is so important?

When we are resting, our minds are not cluttered with the many burdens’ we are carrying. That means when God speaks to our hearts, we have a chance of hearing Him. If we can hear Him, He will give you the means to help you release the burden you are carrying.

I wonder how often I have not heard God because I felt guilty, or worried what others might think if I took some time to rest.

So take a moment and rest…be still…“Be still and know that I am God….”(Psalms 46:10)

 

 

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