Patty LaRoche: Picked First

Do you remember the classroom spelling bee? The game Red Rover? Playground softball matches? For all three, captains were picked, and in front of the hopefuls desperate not to be last, they selected their teammates. Too many times that last one chosen was the same person, no matter the contest. He/she knew it was coming.

Public humiliation at its finest!

As a teacher, I knew that competition could be a fun motivator, but when I used it, I never picked the top student as captain. Those students who elected to sit in the back of the classroom, those with little-or- no eye contact, those whose clothes labeled them unpopular, were selected. The three of us would meet in the hall to choose the lineups, and the leaders were instructed that when we returned to the classroom and announced the teams, we would say the names in reverse order of how they were picked. Sometimes we would start in the middle, but we never began with the ones recognized as the best.

It’s no secret that everyone needs to matter. Rich or poor. Christian or atheist. Educated or uneducated. There are no exceptions. Being chosen validates us. Maybe that’s why the central focus of scripture is that God chose us. Did we deserve it? Definitely not! (With my past, I’d be lucky to stand on the sidelines and cheer.)

God sees things differently.

He is good at that.

In the Old Testament, Haggai the prophet is told by God to instruct two people, Zerubbabel, the governor’s son, and Joshua, the high priest’s son, to rebuild the Temple which their enemy destroyed 66 years before. There have been previous, paltry attempts at reconstruction, but work has stalled as the men become discouraged because their workmanship pales in comparison to Solomon’s original structure.

The warning from God is stern as He jolts them into action. Patty’s paraphrase: “You certainly don’t have a problem tiling and re-carpeting your own homes, but Mine looks like a tornado leveled it. Not cool.”

Just 23 days after Haggai’s message, the men get to work. God continues to instruct Haggai to tell Zerubbabel that devastation will befall the foreign lands of their enemies, but then affirms what He will do next. “On that day, I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.” Power-punched words to end this Old Testament book. “I. Have. Chosen. You.” Of all the Israelites, Zerubbabel was labeled a favorite.

We have the same opportunity, no matter what worldly designation we have been given.

If we are a Jesus-follower, we need to thank God (literally) that He looked down from His throne and, ignoring what the world has to say, offered grace to everyone, even those defined as a “last pick:” the teenager with the kinky hair and the crooked nose; the boy who can’t hit a baseball; the girl whose parents will abandon her; the murderer; you; and me.

God chooses the ones who will love Him back, repent of their sins and become new creations in Christ. But there’s more good news: In God’s kingdom, there are no last picks. We might be the outcast on everyone else’s list, but we all are first on His.

We. Are. Chosen.

But don’t shout “Hallelujah!” too soon. It doesn’t end there.

One question remains which we need to ask ourselves: “Have we chosen Him?”

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