by: carole l. haines
As children, most of us remember the drill of picking teams to play a game of Dodgeball, or softball; perhaps basketball. I grew up in a neighborhood where this was virtually a daily routine in the Summertime. We all lined up and two Captains were chosen. Then the dreaded choosing began. “I’ll take Tammy. I get Joe…” and on and on it went. With each name that is called aloud, the line got shorter, but some were still standing there. And finally, the horrifying statement of, “Well, I guess you have to be on my team.” These hurtful words were usually always spoken to the last one standing! I was a bit athletic as a child, very strong and fast. I wasn’t usually the last one standing, but nor was I a Captain. My heart always cringed a bit for the last one chosen. Jesus tells us a story about this in The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 20: Laborers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9 When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
I am so incredibly grateful that God’s ways are higher than our ways. He has no favorites. No one is ever told, “Well, I guess you’ll have to be on my team.” Each one of us is deeply loved, equally cherished, and accepted in Our Beloved Christ Jesus. There is so much Kingdom Work to be done. All the bickering, fighting, vying for a place in the game; none of that is necessary in the Kingdom of God. There is a place for each one of us. And when we are doing what He calls us to do, where He calls us to do it, great things happen. Praise God for His kind choosing of each one of us. But let us not forget that God’s desire is for all to be saved. He desires every man, woman, and child to come to the Knowledge of His love for them (2 Peter 3). Let us trust His perfect timing and guidance. There is so much to be done. He has a place for us to serve and honor Him. Let us rejoice in His Perfect love for us all. Let us seek Him about our place in the game, instead of trying to figure it out for ourselves. We can get it wrong, yet He never does. His choosing is perfect.