Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Last One Picked

Once upon a time I was in high school.  It really doesn't seem that long ago, some of the memories and lessons still help me along my way today.  This is a High School story.  A time when I decided to do something daring, something, well, crazy.

I tried out for cheerleading. 

Now, a little back story.  I had thought about trying out in the middle of my freshman year when they needed more girls for JV.  Then I thought about it again in the Spring.  Nope.  I just couldn't do it.  The commitment scared me senseless and my parents weren't too excited about it either.

So I waited.

I watched.

I remember the first time I saw the varsity team perform their winning state routine at an assembly.  I watched one girl as they launched her high in the air and in that moment, I was hooked.  It was amazing.  Throwing people in the air?  I didn't know it was possible for a bunch of high schoolers to get together and do the things these girls did. They were amazing and they had gold medals to prove it.

So I dipped my toe in a little further and took a choreography class the cheerleading coach was teaching for spring term.  And with more than a little push from a friend, I tried out, hoping that there would be enough grace out there in the world to squeeze me onto the Junior Varsity team.

No such luck. 

As I rode the bus home with a sealed envelope, I got ready for the worst.  And the worst happened.  I didn't make JV.  Someone had decided that I needed to do something a little different.


I was shocked.

What in the world was the coach thinking, putting a girl with absolutely no experience on a State Championship team?

In that that moment it hit me: she must see something in me that I didn't even know was there. 

From then on, I ate and slept cheerleading.  I practiced two hours every day AFTER practice.  I hung on every correction, every pointer our coach gave, whether it was intended for me or not.  I still remember the first time my coach praised me and I will never forget those months of training.

The one thing that got me through, the thing I clung to when I thought about giving in to second best, was that I knew my coach had chosen me.   She had sat down at a kitchen table with a stack of tryout scores, interview notes, and teacher recommendations and she had put my packet on the Varsity stack.  She knew my flaws, my strengths, and my weaknesses and had decided to put me on this team, this year, for a reason.  That's why my little 16 year old heart did not give up.

That's the same reason my little 31 year old heart doesn't give up now.  I've been hand picked.  Chosen despite all the reasons why I should be left on the sidelines.  He sees something in me.  Something I can't see in myself no matter how hard I may try.  He knows how to make me stronger, make me someone I could never be if He left me to myself.  He is willing to train me.  To put the time and effort in to show me how to learn, how to practice, how to perform.  

The other day I sat down in the middle of the straight and narrow and threw a fit.  Shook my fist at the God of the Universe and told Him that He doesn't know who He's dealing with here.  That He picked the wrong girl! That His ideas really stink sometimes.  That I'm saying NO to what He wants me to do this time.  I've gone far enough, and what He's asking me to believe is too much!

I'm not Job, obviously he never did any fist shaking.  But, God's answer to Job and His answer to me were one and the same.  To paraphrase all of the beautiful poetry in those last few stanzas in the book of Job

I am God and you are not. 

(BTW, I knew you were going to throw this fit before you threw it and I still picked you)


And in no unkind way, He told me that He chose me, not because I am good, but because I am willing.

Suddenly I remembered that I have always have and always will choose to be willing.

That "Here I am LORD, send me."  is not just Isaiah speaking, it's me, too.

Down on my knees, face to the ground, undone and willing.

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