This week I had the opportunity to go to my grandson’s Junior Varsity football game. It actually was a mixture of the freshman team and the JV’rs. So I knew I wasn’t going to watch a professional game! In years past he has played on basketball and baseball teams, but this is his first year of playing football. It was a good game for them in that they won!
American football has eleven players at a time on the field, but it also has at least that many on the bench–and at least at this level may only play a few minutes of the game, if at all. (The National Football league are allowed 53 players on the team, but again only 11 play at a time). As I watched my grandson and the rest of the team standing in the rain, waiting for their turn to play. I honestly thought, “why”? Why do these young men spend hours practicing in all kinds of weather to stand on the side lines waiting to hear the coach say “Phillips’ you’re in”. Then I watched at least three times the game get halted for injuries. Only one serious enough to leave the field early with his parents (looked like a knee injury). They knowingly play, (with their parents signing wavers I am sure) with the possibility of injury. There was no complaining of the wet, cold or having to stand the whole time. (There were actual benches, available, but only the injured used them! The “bench” moved up and down the sidelines following their teammates on the field. They were encouraged to stay engaged to learn from watching, to celebrate good plays and be encouraging during struggling times. Isn’t that what we as the body of Christ are called to do?
Every believer is enrolled on God’s team from day one. We learn to listen to our Coach, follow His instructions and learn His Rule book. We will have our side-line time–it is necessary. We must learn our plays (God’s Word) and as we learn to execute with faith, His plays (obedience, surrender and trust) we will become a greater asset to His team. Aaron is called a wide receiver. He is supposed to block his opponent and be open to catch the ball. However, he hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet. He told me his coach was giving him tips on how to be a better blocker during the game. We are called to improve and we can by watching God’s other players and learning from them.
God has called each of us to play a part in His kingdom–what an amazing opportunity. We are His bench–waiting till He calls us into actively participate in our assignment. Read through the Paul’s letters in the New Testament and he is always encouraging the “bench”. To the Thessalonians he writes “we always thank God for all of you and pray for you, constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 1:2-3 That is the whole team he is talking too…and unless we see ourselves as part of the whole team, we won’t fulfill our total assignment. Those young men celebrated the good plays of others, they consoled the injured, they paid attention even when they weren’t playing–they stayed engaged. We stay engaged first of all by just showing up! We stay engaged as we pray for our pastor and leadership team before and during the service. We stay engaged as we greet and encourage those we see on Sunday morning. We stay engaged as we thank the nursery workers, the children’s ministry team or the worship team members. We stay engaged when we begin to understand the bigger picture. My grandson is an integral part of the team. I am proud of him. It is my desire to stay engaged for the Kingdom no matter what my assignment may be for the day, how about you?