For he chose us in him before the creation of the world... Ephesians 1:4 NIV
It was a familiar routine every afternoon right after lunch. All of us fifth graders would go racing down the hillside from where the school sat and up onto the rec fields at our playground. The choices would vary as to what we would play, but the ritual of what would come first never did...choosing sides. Now, I have always been a pretty athletic guy and a well-liked kid. I realize I was very blessed in both of those things. But Jerry wasn't. Jerry was the outsider. Not because of anything he had done but because of the way he looked, the way he talked and his lack of coordination. The latter proved to be a huge liability when it came to things like kickball and football. You know, things that shake the foundations of the world.
Every day, captains would be selected and the choosing would begin. It pretty much went down the same way every day and every day, Jerry would be last. The truth is, some of the guys would have never selected Jerry at all if the teachers had not demanded that everyone get to play. Secretly, I hurt for Jerry. I wanted to pick him first (or even third or fourth) but I wanted to be cool too.
I remember the day things changed. I can't remember who the trend setter was. It's a shame because they were a hero that day. Someone chose to make a difference and to take a chance. No, they didn't take Jerry first that day. But they did let him kick first. And, when Jerry kicked the ball clumsily from the side of his foot, that kid ran alongside of Jerry all the way to first base--screaming and cheering like he had won the World Series. Jerry's smile could have lit up three counties with the biggest grin I have ever seen. Jerry's attitude changed that day. He became a slightly different kid. Even more so the next day when he wasn't chose last--just next to last. And, now, where one kid had cheered for Jerry the day before, the whole team became Jerry's fans. Including me. I hope that Jerry remembers those days fondly. I know he probably hurt for all those days he was last. But maybe there is a large portion of his memory that is brightened by the days he became everyone's MVP.
That's what you and I are--MVPs. Not because of what we can bring to the team or because of our past achievements. No, it's because of what that verse says above. "He chose us...". The good news is that it wasn't an afterthought. Before the world was set in motion, before the first sunrise occurred or the first wave splashed onto the shore, you and I were chosen to be on His team. None of us are any better than the other. None of us can do what only the Captain can do. But He chose us any way. Then, He sent His Son to secure our place on the team. His sacrifice made sure that our selection was secure. Only one thing keeps us from being a part of the game--our refusal to be chosen.
School came to an end that year and I don't know what happened to Jerry. I would love to know what he became and what happened in his life. I'd also love to know what a difference that day (and the ones to follow) made in his life. Maybe nothing; maybe everything. For you, Jerry (and all the "Jerrys" who are out there), rest in the joy of knowing that you were chosen...chosen before the world began.