There is a classic memory we all seem to have. The memory could be a good one or a bad one, depending what side of things you landed on. For some of us, looking back to the time of Elementary School gym class brings back fond memories of laughter and fun. For others, however, the dread of being chosen last for dodgeball conjures up a fresh wave of rejection. Can you tell that I was the kid always picked last in gym class?
As a mom, I have been able to parent my kids through this same experience, and it has been interesting to hear how others recall this seemingly shared moment. I think the reason this hits us so hard is that it touches on a deeper desire we all have, the desire to be chosen. Although the reasons we may not have been chosen in Elementary School gym class likely had to do with the fact that we were slower or less athletic, the reasons why aren’t what really matters. What matters is that feeling that we all get when we aren’t what someone else is looking for.
This very feeling was likely the reason I was in Washington DC in the summer of 1996. I went along with a friend’s youth group to a Youth for Christ event. At that point in my life, I was not really a believer. I had grown up in a family that only darkened the doors of a church on Christmas and Easter. Church was not something we regularly talked about, and conversations about God were pushed away from my mind. It was too hard to think of God as real, because if He was, then my life made no sense. I grew up in a situation was at best, dark and scary. If God was who people said He was, then there must have been something wrong with me, to allow me to live in that scenario. I couldn’t go there. But I could go to youth group where there was pizza and volleyball tournaments and people who were fun and nice to me. When the opportunity came to go on a group trip for a few days, I jumped at the chance. It wasn’t about the speakers or the bands, it was about the opportunity to spend a few days away with my friends and with adults that would keep me safe.
Arriving in DC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was 26,000 teenagers that had gathered in order to learn about God’s plan for their life. Over the next few days, I learned so much about who God said I was. I wish I could say there is a specific verse I remember, or even a specific speaker, but I don’t remember any of that. What I do remember is feeling loved. Feeling valued. Feeling chosen. That trip changed the course of the rest of my life. I have since gone into ministry, spending my life serving others, helping them to know Christ. I will occasionally think back to that trip, and wonder where my life would be if I hadn’t gone. But like many of us, my teenage years are a distant memory, one that I don’t spend too much time pondering.
Until last week. Last week, God revealed something to me that made all of those Elementary School gym class moments fade away. About two years ago, I transitioned into a missions role with a global non-profit, working in the area of orphan care. My role is to oversee, resource, and equip the Spiritual Care teams in 5 countries. Although this role is amazing and an incredible opportunity to minister to children across the globe, it was a difficult decision to leave behind my previous ministry role. I had started an amazing program reaching the lost and hurting kids in our community. That program represented the very heartbeat of what I knew God wanted me to do, and God had opened the door for me to train other people how to start similar programs everywhere from Canada to California. There was an emotional attachment to that program, so much so, that I felt like I was leaving one of my children behind. However, God began preparing my heart early for a transition. By the time the new role came around, I was ready to be obedient in my actions, even if my heart still felt torn. Almost two years later, I am confident that I am where I need to be. God has shown me that time and time again, how His hand has been guiding and directing me. In His grace though, this last week, God revealed something to me on a day that I was feeling so discouraged. A myriad of circumstances had left me feeling rejected and alone, something I am sure many of us go through from time to time. As I logged onto our staff meeting, I listened intently as our staff shared what God was doing across the globe. At the end of our time together, our founder started sharing about a season of ministry he and his wife had served in before starting our organization. As he shared, the details almost immediately started ringing bells in my own mind. Washington, DC. Mid-nineties. 20,000+ teens. I could hardly wrap my mind around what he was saying. Sending his wife a text, she quickly confirmed that he was in fact talking about a Youth for Christ event. Comparing dates, we both were shocked to realize that the very event that they were responsible for bringing to DC, that they organized and hosted, was the very event that I committed my life to the Lord at.
Let me repeat that for those in the back of the room. The founders of the global organization I currently work for were the ones that were responsible for bringing together the major youth event that I committed my life to Christ at. They live on the West Coast. I live on the East Coast. They only did the event for 3 years. And one of those years was a year that God met me there.
In that very moment, God revealed to me how He had chosen me for this job, long before I had ever heard of it. In fact, it was before the organization even existed. I could see God’s fingerprints on my life, moving me into the right position, in His perfect timing, to fulfill the God-given calling upon my life. And in His grace, He revealed that to me on the very day I was experiencing a deep hurt of rejection in my life. How amazing is the God we serve?
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
Sis, let me tell you something. Those words are for you, too. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy. And it certainly doesn’t mean we will always understand what He is doing. In fact, most of the time we won’t. But there is one thing that you can hold in your heart: He calls you His special possession. And He is the one who calls you out of the darkness because He loves you. It’s who He is. And chosen is who you are.
Things to Ponder: What areas of my life have I failed to recognize the ways that God has chosen me? Chosen me for my role as a mother, a wife, a friend, in my job? How does making that connection change your perspective?
Things to Pray:
Lord help me to see the ways that you have Chosen me, not just in my role, but as your child. Help me to realize the rejection of the world does not matter in light of being chosen as yours.