Do I thank God – or give Him a good slap?

As a child in the playground, whoever brought the football got to pick who was “captain” of the opposing team.  And then the two “captains” would take turns to pick their teams from the gathered hopefuls.  Then the game would begin.  And in cases of dispute, whoever had brought the football had the final word.  The ultimate sanction was always to pick up their ball and stomp off.  No more football.

There was clarity in the playground – and not an adult in sight.

The best and worst bit was “the picking”.  How soon you were picked decided your place in the pecking order of popularity.  The longer it took, the lower down you were.  And as for being the very last one – the one who was “do I have to have him on my team?” – that was “social outcast” territory.  But different “captains” meant different pecking orders.  You could move from the top to the bottom (and vice versa) in the same day.  So a football was always on my birthday and Christmas List – then I could be the picker!  Which opened up another pecking order.  The one who brought the football quickly found out how popular they were by how many wanted to play football with their ball!

There was clarity in the playground!

“Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God.  And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.  He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.  They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. “ Luke 6:12-19

I came to this morning’s verses with no intention of doing anything (other than the minimum).  I am tired, empty, down in the dumps, feeling a little got-at, a little the victim of life right now.  It will pass – it always does.  But …

“FOR POWER CAME OUT OF HIM” got the GSHJ pyrotechnic-wow-show treatment this morning … “For power came OUT of Him.”  After a “night in prayer to God” Jesus should have been a little tired.  A little weary.  A little in need of sleep.  But here He is doing the picking of His football team.  The many disciples learning where they each stood in the pecking order that day!

How often I find myself wondering about where my place is.  Others seem “blessed”.  Others seem “chosen”.  Others seem to have a career path.  Others seem to have clarity.  I seem to be the last one picked so often.   The one who has to “try out” – only to find I don’t fit.  The one who yearns a little (is that a sin?) to be included.  Who wonders if “not fitting” is me – does God struggle with me – and do I listen to me not God – does God try and “use me” but find I prefer to do “it” my way.  That kind of wondering.

Like whether the unpicked apostles – the “ordinary disciples” – felt let down.  What was it about them that was “not good enough”.  The great “unnamed” of the bible – like me.  And I imagine seeing the “picked team” that day standing next to Jesus on that “flat plain”.   I imagine seeing the healing, the shoving pushing crowd, the noise, the wonder, the intimacy they had with Jesus.  And me watching it all from a distance.  An observer.  Not able to play.  Not on their team.  Social outcast territory stuff.  I wonder how they felt that day.  Inside.  Behind the outer smiles.

But that is just me today.

Tomorrow I will be the one who is picked again.  Tomorrow, I will have my mojo again, and tomorrow I will have “power” coming out of me again.  The rejuvenated and repowered me!  Except for one thing …  My recharged batteries come not through prayer but through sleep.  Not through communing – but through slumbering.

And as I sit here pondering what I have just written, I feel His power stirring within.  He always is (even when I think I am not enough to hear Him).   And He caresses me inside.  Behind my outer frown lines.

“Are you ready to leave your job, your home, your salary, your car, your “everything” that you have accumulated?”  And I look down at my toes.

“I don’t “need” you to walk away from everything in your life, Paul.  Your life is right here – where you and I live together.”  And I feel my burden lifting a little.

“You have my “football”.  You have your own “team to pick”.  All those hopefuls who wait to be picked – all those others I bring to you – you to them.  You have your own “football” every day.  Just as each of the unpicked “ordinary disciples” had their own football.  Have you ever wondered why I picked those twelve?

Have you ever considered that they would NEVER have believed themselves capable of their ”own football” – that they might NEVER have believed that of themselves?  And – I am not saying that is true (merely inviting you to see things from a different angle) – wouldn’t that mean you are (even more) powerful than the chosen “apostles” … ?

That ALL these “ordinary disciples” (both then and now today) have so much more “power within” than even the “apostles” – so much more greater “power” than you ever realise?”

(empty silent desert … dust devils whirling by … the full impact of those words slowly digesting … )

Well crap Lord!

I came here all tired and grumpy – and look at me now … !  Energised and rejuvenated and full of you again! Connected and ready to go.  And I haven’t even been up all night praying or anything – just sitting here feeling knackered!  Do I thank you or do I slap you?

“Whichever you prefer my little chickadee! Whichever you prefer … “