Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. . . . I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor (John 4:35-38).I was not the most athletically gifted ball-player in high school. But I enjoyed sports and when my friends tried out for the football team, I joined them. However, while they played in every game, I sat on the bench. While they dragged themselves into the locker room after each game with muddy uniforms, I rubbed dirt into mine so it would look as if I'd been in the game.
The crowning moment of my humiliating sports career came during our annual End-of-the-Season roast beef dinner. During the dinner, the star players would receive trophies and everyone would receive our coveted varsity letter.
My heart raced with anticipation as the coach called our names in alphabetical order. And it sank to my feet when he called mine and I walked to the podium to receive - a junior varsity letter. I’d never been so humiliated. For a full year I suffered the embarrassment of warming the bench and now, on the night of all nights for football jocks, they handed me a dinky JV letter. I left it on the table, hidden under my napkin.
Everyone understands what it is like to be passed over for something special – to fail to make the “team.” Most of us end up sitting life’s bench, watching from the sidelines as others break tackles and score touchdowns to the crowd’s thunderous cheer.
Yes, very few make First String in the game of Life.
But I have learned a marvelous truth about God’s view of Life: What most people admire, God detests (Luke 16:15). What most reject, God chooses. St. Paul surely understood this when he wrote to his Corinthian readers: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and . . . the weak . . . to shame the things which are strong . . . that no one should boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
God doesn't have second string players. The missionary ministering to hundreds across the globe, the mother telling her children the wonderful story of Jesus, the office worker sharing her faith with others, are all critically important members of God’s First String Team (John 4:36-38; 1 Corinthians 3:9). And each will receive the coveted Varsity letter at the long-awaited gala celebration in Glory.
You and I might never be chosen first for what the crowd considers important. Their applause might always go to others. But the Coach of all coaches invites us to turn our backs on the crowd and follow Him. He invites us to be part of His first string.
For His offer, for His promise, for His opinion, I am ever grateful.