Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was always a small kid. In the 6th grade I weighed 49 pounds and measured 4 feet half an inch tall. (You'd better bet that half an inch mattered to me.) I was called Lil' Bit, Short Stuff and Strawberry Shortcake. My middle school PE teacher, Mr. Screws, told me constantly that he was going to pour fertilizer in my socks.

As a result of my stature (and delayed development of coordination) I was quite accustomed to being picked towards the end for playground kickball. I did well academically and was socially accepted for the most part, so I don't recall being overly concerned about being overlooked for athletic endeavors.

The first time I remember being hurt by 'not getting picked' was in middle school. I had developed a love for local theater and was on a roll with being cast in everything I auditioned for for 18 months, until the Springer Opera House's 1987 production of Artichoke. It was a very small cast with only one part for an adolescent. I still remember who got the part.

This same scenario would repeat itself in countless other situations through high school and college. Each time, there was the sting of not being chosen because someone else had been judged smarter, prettier, funnier, faster, more talented, more worthy. It extended beyond plays to awards/honors, clubs, cliques, boys. We have all been there...the embarrassment and hurt of feeling overlooked, under appreciated, left out.

Interestingly, there were also those times when I was surprised that I was picked instead of someone else. Really? There must be some mistake. I was sure someone else was going to be filling this spot. I seemed to get over that pretty quickly.

I am not sure at what age I expected to outgrow this behavior, but I am quite sure I did not expect to be experiencing it in my mid-thirties. Thankfully, those feelings seem to occur with much less regularity. By the grace of God I am generally content, satisfied, trusting God about the whys/ifs and hows of being 'picked.'

Recently, however, I started feeling those emotions again. They snuck up on me, because of all things, they were in regards to ministry. I was hurt, jealous, disappointed that I was not picked for a couple of assignments I wanted and instead chosen to serve in a much different role. It took a few weeks of internal yuck for God to expose the root of my hurt. Then I was embarrassed that my sinful heart could take something as pure as ministry and make it a source of sin.

I had handpicked a few 'assignments' I really wanted God to give me. I can honestly say it wasn't for the glory--it was for the comfort. I had passion. I cared deeply. I felt competent. It would 'work' for me to serve in these ways. But what God gave me was stretching, less comfortable and a bit more isolating.

In the process of praying through my hurt feelings, I was reminded that it was God, not man who does the picking. I was reminded of the references to the parts of the body in I Corinthians--how no part is greater than any other. Each organ serves a vital role. I was also reminded of the often quoted passage in Ephesians 1 about 'the work He prepared in advance for us to do.'

I am so quick to make things about me--my performance, my acceptance, my comfort, my plans. God has been tenderly reminding me that this life is about HIM--His glory, His honor, His plan. Life assignments are not arbitrary. They are divinely orchestrated by the Creator who has a purpose and a plan.

Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please...The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, "I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power." All we're saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill. Romans 9:14-18 The Message

I was working through all this (including an initial draft of what you are now reading) when I drove to meet the Colorado-bound Young Life bus last Friday morning. I didn't end up driving kids, the role I have played so many times in the past. Instead, I drove the luggage, a college-aged leader and our new Area Director's wife. I wasn't bitter about that assignment. I understood my place. The leaders needed to be with the kids they were taking. This is a relational ministry. I am a behind the scenes support person. I am Ok with that. (The things I had been praying through were unrelated to this scenario/ministry.)

As the bus pulled away there were 4 of us left standing in the Cracker Barrel parking lot waving goodbye. We huddled up and prayed. So much of our prayer was regarding WHO was on the bus--how God had ordained it. We realized the significance of our area sending 7 students--1 for each year that my husband and I had been praying for Young Life in this area. We recounted all the stories behind various leaders and kids who were on board. It was clear God chose each and every person to be on that trip.

In response to last Thursday's post I received two e-mails further driving home this point. Five of the Columbus kids were there as recipients of a scholarship in honor of an old friend's infant who died due to complications at birth. Five kids hearing the Gospel in an incredible way this week because of her tragic loss! Another old friend and co-worker from a decade ago let me know her son was on that bus. Another reminder that every single seat was holding a soul that has a story.

And as for the four of us praying in that parking lot? We weren't picked to go this time. We were picked to send--to stay behind, to serve quietly, to pray.

I have rambled far too long, but this has been a big lesson for me. "Not getting picked" is not really the right perspective. The next time I feel passed over I pray I can remember something I heard Beth Moore say in one of her Wising Up videos: Every 'No' from God is because He has a different/better 'Yes' in mind. (my paraphrase)

As for the recent assignment I was intimidated by and questioning God's intentions over--it is early, but so far every expectation has been exceeded. God has done a huge work in my heart. I am reminded that His plans are beyond what my feeble brain can sort through. He's God. I am not. Hallelujah!


twiceasnice said...

I know that God has picked you to touch my life and my twins everytime I read your post. I am so glad He has blessed my life with the witness of your love for HIM. I love your assignment this are perfect for it! Blessings from Austin!

Laura said...

I just finished reading So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore. It talks about stuff like this and is a GREAT book.

Brandy Thixton said...

There is such great truth here. I often think, "I'm good at that ministry, and I'm passionate about it; so it must be where the Lord wants me." The Lord has really been taking this year to show me that He's not interested in my gifts. He wants my willingness and active obedience.

It's a hard lesson. Thanks for driving it home here!

Samantha said...

Again I am both blessed and challenged by the overflow of your heart that graces this page. Thank you for allowing God to use your everyday struggles to speak to and minister to this reader. You are so very precious!