Get In The Game

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Listen to Pastor Joel's message on this topic here.  

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to coach my son's baseball team.  We had 13 players on our team, but could only play 10 in the field each inning.  This meant that each inning a few kids had to sit on the bench.  So I arranged our defensive scheme in such a way that everyone on our team would have equal amounts of time playing in the field and sitting on the bench.

But then, a few games into the season, something strange happened.  Some kids on our team would come up to me in the middle of the game and ask, "Coach, can I sit on the bench this inning?"  This question caught me off guard because, in my mind, our players were on a baseball team to play baseball, not to sit on the bench and not play baseball.  So I gathered my team around me one day and  told them, "If you want to sit on the bench during a game, I will certainly let you sit on the bench.  Now, because we have extra players, someone always has to sit on the bench.  But it should not be your desire or your goal to sit on the bench.  We are here to play baseball, not to sit on the bench.  So if you want to sit on the bench, fine.  Because I want players in the field who want to play baseball."

The Christian life is a lot like that.  Serving God with our lives is a lot like that.  In his wisdom, God has chosen to use his people to carry out his purposes in this world.  God calls people to serve him with their lives and to do what he has told them to do.  Sometimes, however, the things that God calls us to do aren't easy, and they don't gain us any recognition or notoriety for doing them.  Sometimes God calls us to do things that we might rather not do.  And many times, a lot of Christians would rather "sit on the bench" than get in the game and be a part of what God is doing in the world.

The book of Esther is about a girl who has a choice to get involved in what God is doing in the world.  Someone was trying to exterminate all the Jews in the land, and Esther had it within her capacity to get involved in God's rescue plan for her people, but getting involved could mean personal sacrifice on her part, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to commit to that.  So Esther's cousin sent her a message and effectively said, "If you won't get involved in what God is doing to rescue these people, then God will find someone who will.  Now which would you rather be?  The kind of person who gets involved in hat God is doing in the world, or the kind who sits not eh sidelines while someone else takes your place?"

If God has called you to do something that you don't necessarily want to do, or something that you don't feel called or equipped for, do it anyway.  God will give you what you need in order to do what he wants you to do.  He will equip and resource you with what you need to accomplish his purposes.  And he will go with you to help you.  Don't just sit around; get involved in what God is doing in the world.

And you know what?  If you don't, he'll find someone who will.  If you're not eager to do what God has said to do, then God will go and find someone who is, and leave you sitting on the bench, twiddling your thumbs.  I don't know about you, but I don't want my legacy to be that when God called, I stayed home.  I want my legacy to be that when God called, I jumped into the fray; I got to work; I went to battle; I was a part of what God was doing in the world.  When I look back on my life, I don't want to be remembered as someone who thought about it so long that by the time I made a decision, the opportunity was over. 

We are here to serve God, not to sit on the bench.  If you want to sit on the bench, then don't be surprised when you look back at your life and feel like you've never accomplished anything for the Lord because you never wanted to be in the game. 

Unfortunately, one of the main excuses that people use to disregard the call of God is to say that they don't "feel led" to do something that God has directed them to do.  For some reason a feeling of calling is often used as a litmus test for Christian obedience.  This needs to change.  The Bible is full of examples of people that God used that almost certainly didn't "feel led" to do what God had said, but they did it anyway.  Ask Jonah if he felt led to go to Nineveh.  Ask Isaiah if he was excited about going to preach to a people whom he knew would reject him and his message. 

Several months ago the Babylon Bee posted a satirical article that is an all-too-real representation of the way most Christian's respond to God's call, stating that a local man feels led to do things that he coincidentally really likes.  That is, we tend to be eager to follow God when it involves doing something that we enjoy doing, or doing something that will gain us accolades or recognition.  But the reality is that serving God with our lives is not necessarily easy, and it doesn't necessarily include doing things that we enjoy doing.  But the question is not whether we will enjoy what God has said to do, but whether or not we want to be a part of his plan and purpose in this world. 

God has a plan and purpose in the world that he is constantly working out.  And in his wisdom, he has decided to use us - his people - to carry out his purposes.  Ultimately it is God's power that accomplishes those purposes, but the way God moves is through his people who are willing and eager to obey his voice.  Through those who are willing, the Lord goes out into the world; the Lord shakes the earth; the mountains quake when God's people say, "Here am I!  Send me!"