I remember Jerry. Jerry was a friend of mine that was in elementary school for several years. I say “friend” but he was more of an acquaintance. Let me tell you why. Jerry had some physical and mental handicaps. Because of this Jerry was…let’s see, the appropriate way to put it would be athletically challenged. To put it simple, Jerry couldn’t play a lick of anything much. And that’s critical when you are trying to become the king of the playground kickball pool.
So, it was a daily ritual in my younger years for two guys to be picked as captains. Everyone would then line up for the selection of teams. Big, tall, fast, slow…and Jerry.
Now, there are some things that can be counted on in life. The sun will come up in the morning. Rain will always fall down. Congress will blow all your money (another subject for another day). And, you could always count on Jerry being picked last. He knew it. We all knew it. It was just expected.
Then came the week my parents challenged me about my approach to Jerry. I don’t remember what brought the conversation up, I just remember those final words from my dad. “Next time you’re the captain, why don’t you pick Jerry first?”
I prayed real hard that next day. Not for the lost or the poor or the sick…I prayed I wouldn’t be the captain. I knew what I had to do but I didn’t want to do it. Guess who was the first captain picked?
I mumbled. I delayed. I kicked the dirt and even made a couple of funny noises. Then, I chose…Mark. Mark was my best friend. A good athlete. A great guy. Who wouldn’t pick Mark? Then pick number two came. You can imagine the silence as Jerry’s name came from my lips. I even wondered where it had come from…almost wanted to take it back. But there was no denying the look on Jerry’s face at that moment. His smile shone like the sun. Jerry, despite everything else, was smart enough to know that he didn’t deserve to be number two. But, today, for one brief moment on the playground at J. R. Allen Elementary common sense had been suspended.
Sound familiar? Maybe not. Maybe you don’t know why I told you this sweet story from long ago. It’s not because I’m trying to clear my conscious or make up for past wrongs. Here’s the reason in a nutshell:
“(Jesus speaking) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…” John 15:16 NIV
Process that for a minute…He (God) chose me and you. Not because we could play a lick nor because He needed us. He did it out of love–amazing, pure, unadulterated love.
I wish I could say I chose Jerry every day that year. No. The next day I wasn’t even a captain. Nor the rest of that week. And when my time came again numerous times that year, Jerry dropped to the tail end of the line. But Jerry…and you and I can rest in the knowledge that He chose us–chooses us–every single day.