English: Youths playing the Red Rover game.

English: Youths playing the Red Rover game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Red rover! Red rover! Let Steven come over!”  Remember that childhood, playground game?  Before  the game could begin,  two captains were selected who would alternate in choosing members of their team. When the captains were decided, there were several ways in which a captain had first choice.   Having first choice was extremely important.  It meant you had first choice on the top picks.  (Sounds like a draft, doesn’t it?)

If you wanted strength, you picked big Fred G.  If you wanted speed, you picked Randy F.  There were girls too! They were chosen right along side the boys.  Mary S. was as fast as anyone! Some were chosen sooner than others, but when it was all said and done all interested game-players were chosen.

There was nervousness as a part of the choosing! Will the captain choose the right person(s) for her/his team?  Will the Captain choose me?  Will I not only be chosen, but will I end up being on the team I want to be on?  As the player-choices dwindled, there was anxiety,  “What if I am the last person chosen?” It’s interesting how a person feel both ecstatic and relieved at the same time

Years ago Max Lucado wrote a book in which he told the story of an older man and younger guy who days-on-end would show up where a pool of guys would gather each morning hoping to be signed-on to work that day. Early each morning they arrived hoping to be hired, and in what seemed like an eternity, the older man and younger guy were passed over time and time again time and time again.  Then, one day, it happened!  The two of them were chosen to work, and as the two leave to go to the work site, the older man says something to the younger guy like:  “It sure feels good to be chosen!”  And it does.

There are also times in our lives when we are chosen and don’t even know it.  A few years ago while serving a local church, I was introduced to a special ministry called Kids Hope USA.  It’s an organization that invites churches to partner with a local school in an impoverished area of  a community to offer many things to students and schools, which they would not be able to secure otherwise:   tutors, school supplies, uniforms, parties, etc.

With a little persuasion and with a little bargaining I agreed to serve as a tutor.  Every Thursday afternoon I would meet with the same student for an hour.  My first student, we’ll call him “Ken,” was a second-grader.  As you can imagine it took us a few weeks to get comfortable with one another. Some days we would study his spelling. On other days we would read.  We even had time each week, if we chose, to go outside and shoot a few hoops or if the computers were up and running we would do simple math on one of the computer games.   “Ken” was a great little guy!  He was mischievous as could be, and there were times when I would show up and “Ken” had not come to school (for numerous reasons).

I recall our first meeting.  Since we were so well unacquainted, I suggested that we draw pictures of our families.  His picture included a picture of his mother, grandmother and siblings.  He was very fond of his older sister and baby brother.  I shared my family picture with him as well, even introducing him to my dogs.  Such was our time together for the school year.  You can’t help but get close to a young child when you spend week after week with them in a tutoring setting or shooting hoops or playing kickball.

As the school year was about to come to a close, I suggested that we draw pictures of our families again.  Not much changed from our first pictures, except as “Ken” was describing all the people in his picture I noticed an extra person.  When I asked him who that person was, he said rather matter-of-factly, “That’s you silly willy!!”

I can’t begin to tell you how proud that made me feel.  “Ken” had chosen me!  I belonged!  We belonged! What an honor I felt to be chosen, to be included. Of course, this didn’t just happen by chance. It took time, lots of time , and lots of patience, which is always true if relationships are to be formed.

And then there are times we are chosen in spite of ourselves.  I think about the disciples of Jesus Christ.  They were such a hodgepodge of folks!   Still, these were the kind of people (thank God)  Jesus chose.  They spent a lot of time together.  Some days they were right on target in the ministry Jesus invited them to engage in with people.  Other days they were like “bumps on a log,”  “dense as fog”  and not the “sharpest tool in the shed!” However, when the “chips were down” and the inevitability of Jesus turning his face toward Jerusalem and knowing all the suffering that lie ahead, Jesus had a very intimate conversation with these same hodgepodge disciples (see John 15:9-17)  God knows what all Jesus could have said. He could have chastised them  for not always “getting it.” He could have blame-gamed them  for the many times  they “dropped the ball.” Jesus could have played the shame-game with them reminding them of the times they were more interested in greatness and wanting to  be his “right-hand person.”  Oh! There was so much he could have said!  Instead, as God-flesh, as Grace-extension, Jesus shares intimate details of what a vital, vibrant relationship means now that they are in deep relationship with him:

  • “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (vs. 9)
  • “Love each other as I [Jesus] have loved you. (vs. 12a)
  • “I have called you Friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (vs.15c,d)
  • “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
  • “This is my command:  Love each other.” (vs.17)

In his book of devotions, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado writes these words  in his devotional titled, “The Basin of Water”: “I looked in the Bible for a verse that said Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet except the feet of Judas. I couldn’t find one.”

 Red Rover! Red Rover!  Let ______ come over!

 By the way, there is a reason I named my blog, SinnersRow.  There is always a place for anybody who wants to stop by and sit a spell.  Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?