One of my least favorite childhood memories is playing baseball. The neighborhood kids would gather on Saturday morning to play baseball. And then the dreaded part. Choosing up sides.
There would be two captains—and who chose these people? I guess we all knew who the best players were, and they couldn’t be on the same team. So they were the captains. And right away, you know you’re not really the best. And you hope maybe to just be good enough.
Remember what this feels like? The first one is chosen, and the second. And then the first captain chooses again, and the second and it’s still not you. And finally someone chooses you—but only to even up the sides, so each team has the same number.
What begins in childhood continues in almost every area of life. Will someone choose me to go out on a date? Will I be chosen for the Varsity team? Will I be chosen for that elite singing group? Will my hoped-for college choose me?
A lot of kids are hearing from colleges about now. Some have heard, and they’re over the moon, and some are crushed. I was telling a parent this week about my daughter Maggy. She applied to one school early decision and that was it. (She was a one-application kid!) I remember the day the envelope arrived. It was thin, and everybody knew you wanted a fat one. It doesn’t take many words at all to tell you you’re not chosen. We had to wait for Maggy to come home from school and open the envelope. She read it, and she teared up, and then she went silent. Then she got angry. She went to the kitchen drawer and got a book of matches; she went out on the deck and she burned that letter. And she came inside and went up to her room.
It’s hard to see someone you love not chosen.
A little later in life it’s, Will that big firm choose me for my first job? Will they choose me as a partner? Will the country club’s membership committee choose me? Will the cool people want me in the club, in the circle of friends?
I think we spend our whole lives, really, hoping to be chosen.
And we are.
Yesterday the Gospel I read were these words of Jesus from John 15. “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” When it came time to choose up sides, Jesus just chose them all.
And he didn’t choose them because they were the best preachers or teachers or healers. He chose them, even knowing every flaw and weakness—the one would deny him, the one who would betray him. He knew they would all disappear during the ordeal of his crucifixion. And he chose them anyway.
That’s because God doesn’t choose based on merit—on skill or good looks or how much money you have or how cool you are. God chooses you just because of who you are. I wonder if you can even understand that. It’s so foreign. We find it almost nowhere in the world.
But that is the divine choice. God chooses you, knowing everything about you, knowing all your gifts and all your character flaws—the kind that deny and betray and walk away—and God says, “I choose you anyway.”