Sometimes we have to sit on the bench...

photo-1414788020357-3690cfdab669 This year, at the prompting of my wife (yes, she's the best) we've attempted to become a #footballfamly.  We've picked a favorite team, the Denver Broncos, and have spent 16 weekends cheering on Peyton Manning and his crew.

There is a lot of emotion in football.  There is the thrill of victory and winning, the pain of loss and defeat, anger from bad calls (or at least the perceived ones), anxiousness from a dwindling clock coupled with a close score...and, well, you get the picture.  All of these are pretty easy to identify with...because we've all been there at least to some scale in our lives.

However, there is one emotion that I've struggled to identfy with...until recently.  This  emotion is the one created by players who are on the team, but have to sit the game out.  Every week, there are the players who sit on the bench just waiting to contribute while the game goes on.  Take a second and try to imagine what that feels like?!

Have you ever been, "benched" when you'd rather be in the "game?"

Being a person who is a "do-er"...and one that hates to sit still, I don't give myself an opportunity to feel this emotion much.  If I see something that needs to be done...or something that needs extra attention, I do my best to go after it and add my contribution.

For the most part, life has trained us to act in this way.  If we strive to be motivated, or successful, or ambitious...we need to go after pursuits and assert ourselves.  This can be  very good at times...but it also can be very dangerous.  I didn't realize how dangerous it could be until I got sick. :)

This week, after contracting a bug, I've had to sit on the bench a lot.  I'm a Pastor by vocation...which makes the weekend like GAMEDAY!  To take this analogy one step further, Christmas time is like the SUPERBOWL and we're in the red zone!  After having to miss the weekend before Christmas at church, I'm living in the emotion of what the bench feels like.

So far, it's taught me a few things:

1. The bench is where you focus on cheering on your team.  Here's what I know: IT'S NOT ABOUT US!  What an amazing lesson that I need to continue to learn over and over.  Maybe you need this reminder too?  Whether you're in the GAME or on the BENCH...we alwasy need to be elevating those around us...because we're in this together.  The team is ALWAYS greater than the PLAYER.  Cheering from the bench is a HUMBLE and AWESOME responsibility...one that reminds us of a healthy perspective that life is not all about us!  I want to challenge you to never look at your life as your own prosperous adventure.  Who can you cheer on today?

2. The bench provides a wide-angled perspective of the game.  So often, when we're in the game, it's hard to step back and take an objective look at the big picture of what's going on.  Our perspective from being on the field is much more myopic than the panoramic perspective from further away on the sidelines.  Stepping away for a bit allows us to gain a much needed and greater perspective.  When this opportunity comes, we need to embrace it as a gift.

3. The bench is a reminder that you've been recruited.  I want to explore this one the most.  As I've struggled to sit on the sidelines...feeling like I have something to offer while not being able to do so, this one truth has stood out to me the most: God loves me for me.  I don't have to do anything to make Him more pleased with me.  I don't have be more ambitious for Him to love me more.  My CONTRIBUTION is not MY WORTH...and MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS are not what put me on the team.  God loves me for me.  God picked me and put me on the team.  Sometimes, we can get very mistaken on why we're at where we're at.  Aside from GRACE, we'd be nothing...and on a road to no where.  GRACE is what makes us who we are...and allows us to do what we do.  We can give our best, but our best can often become an idol that we work toward.  I've been reminded of this lately.  Have you thought about your successes?  If you believe your accomplishments have allowed you to achieve success, who first gave you your abilities?  TRULY, it all comes from God's grace!  This is a great reminder...that whether we're in the game or on the bench, God has CHOSEN us, PICKED us for the team and has us SECURELY on the team to accomplish His purposes...which HE WILL work out through us!

Psalm 138:8 says, The Lord will work out his plans for my life—     for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

So, today, if you're in the game or on the bench, these things apply to YOU!  (1) Who can you cheer on around you?  (2)How can you keep a big perspective of what's going on around you?  ...and above all (3) Remember that  God picks us FOR US...and not for what we can DO FOR HIM.  He loves us for the unique, wonderful creation of YOU...the one He hand-made as a prized posession, chosen and loved to fulfill His great purposes.

Now, I'm ready to get off this bench...