Perhaps the most feared words ever heard in P.E. class are, “Okay, everyone line up! It’s time to choose teams.” Each of stands waiting for the favored, usually more physically gifted, “captains” to pick us for their team. No one liked to be the last one chosen as it was an indicator, real or perceived, of your own ability as a teammate. I know this because I was often the recipient of just such an honor. I was never surprised to be picked last. I was sometimes a bit relieved, thinking if others did not expect much from me I would not disappoint them. I did not enjoy or excel in many sports, but there was one game for which I was always, remarkably, chosen first for a team.
I recall the great sense of pride and surprise as I heard my name called out to join a certain team for our regular game of Red Rover. For those of you who may have somehow escaped grade school without ever playing this game let me explain the rules. Teams line up on opposite ends of a field and hold hands. Each team gets a chance to call out the name of someone on the opposing team by shouting, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (insert name here) right over!” In response, this person leaves his team line and run full force toward the opposing teams line of linked hands. The goal is to break through the opposition’s line. The “runner” must choose where to impact the lineup often looking for a weak link. It was my insane ability to break through each time my name was called which no doubt made me a popular choice for team captains. Later a friend would confess to me the reason for my Red Rover glory days.
Our Red Rover games always took place on the same day of each week. I was also a Brownie, the younger phase of being a girl scout. On days we had our Brownie Troop meetings we would proudly wear our uniforms to school. Let me give you a moment to picture this….my slightly pudgy form was squished into a light brown skirt ensemble. No doubt I was smoking hot with my shirt tucked and neatly bound by my brownie belt, knee-high socks and of course the infamous brown beanie cap atop my blonde head (thanks a lot mom). So, coincidentally, I was always in said brownie uniform when playing the game. Recall how I mentioned being a bit pudgy? Well unbeknownst to me, my tummy tended to cause the little metal part of my belt to stick out.(the piece which inserts into the hole and presumably lays flat). Apparently, this little needle like protrusion caused members of opposing teams much pain when I impacted their linked hands. They soon learned to just let go and let me pass through. Oh well, at least I came to know what it was like to not be picked last.
There came a time when Jesus needed to pick His “team” from among His many followers. He would not pick His team of disciples based on the effectiveness of their belt buckles. He did not even seem to choose based on supreme skill level or even unquestionable character. He called simple men from Galilee who were not formally educated or sophisticated. Jesus even included a scandalous tax collector and a political extremist in His lineup. God had a plan and provision for each of His followers. Notice His plan in no way relied on the ability of these men, but rather on His ability in them once they answered His call. He is calling our names into service just them same. We do not need to be perfect or without complications. We only need to be willing to follow and serve. So, as we hear our savior call out our names let us rush forward with our spiritual “belt buckles”, ready to cross any lines He has called us to break through.