Excited bouncing, desperate hands stretched to their maximum height and getting-louder-by-the-moment pleading, all to be chosen for something. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
If you've ever been around kids, or been a kid, you can visualize this scene. Do you remember when you were young, standing in a circle, waiting to be picked for the dodge-ball team, the kickball game, the freeze tag? Not being particularly fast, or strong, or skilled in any of these and other sporting events, I usually was picked last or close to it. You might recall that feeling too; the embarrassment of standing there after everyone else was chosen, or the looks of pity your team captain got from the other players when they were stuck with you. None of the kids I played with were mean to me, they just knew I couldn't help them win, and so, I wasn't wanted on the team. It eventually stopped hurting me; I just accepted that I was never going to be chosen.
Not anymore. All that has changed.
Did I get better at dodge-ball you ask? No; I cannot peg someone from 50 feet away, and I am still slow. Really slow. But I am chosen now so frequently and with such gusto, you would think I was a celebrity. Let me explain.
A few days ago I was visiting dear friends of mine. They are a beautiful family of nine, and each one of them I call friend, even down to their nineteenth month-old. I had not even gotten inside yet when I heard their oldest son shout out,
" I call Sarah!"
Instantly the house filled with just as eager cries of, "No, I got her!" or "Hey it's my turn!" and "No! I want to!" from the other kids. What were they calling dibs on? Sitting next to me at dinner. Now, this wasn't a first time occurrence; this happens EVERY time I go there to share a meal with their family. Sometimes even the parents join in! They actually keep track of who sat next to me the last time, so that everyone gets their turn. I cannot adequately express how loved and happy this makes me feel each and every time. To be singled out, for someone to want to be near me, to be chosen.
Now think about something else for a moment; this is exactly how God feels about you! He calls your name every moment, desperately wanting to be close to you. He wants you on His team! He has already prepared a place of honor, right next to Himself, and He persistently asks you to join Him there. He desires your company, your presence, your closeness. Always. This desire is made known throughout scripture, but one of my favorite times is in Isaiah 43 verse 1:
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
He has called you by name. You are His. His chosen one, His delight. Shame and fear are no longer yours to cling to. You can rest against the Almighty's chest, hear His heart beating for you, just as John did at the Passover meal. How different would your daily walk look if this was the truth you woke up to everyday? If His love song for you was what you heard in your mind throughout the day, His speaking your name the last thing you heard each night?
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I can tell you from experience; being at my friend's house for a meal is a joyful thing. Being the cause of such exultation, being almost fought over, never fails to make me feel important, cherished, loved. It is not because I am awesome. I don't deserve the love of this wonderful family. It is all a gift; a gift from them and really, a gift from God. As is His love for us.
So the next time you feel left out, unwanted, or unloved, remember this. You are not any of those things.
You are chosen.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9