I heard this great story about a guy, let’s call him Matt, who qualified to be on the school football team. Matt was ecstatic –it was a valuable passport to fame, scholarship and girls. The practice days were simply exhilarating for this young teen. The swagger, the cool look of his uniform was intended to attract attention. Matt relished in the Oohh’s and Aahh’s as he walked down the hallway. It was great to be on the team.
Sure enough, the game day arrived. It was time to put into practice all that the team had learned against the strongest opponents in their league. As Matt sat on the bench waiting his turn, he saw his teammates getting battered and bruised. Their once sparkling white uniform was all muddied and dirty, not to mention the smell of sweat that lingered even after they walked past.
The young teen was not so sure of himself anymore. Matt wasn’t keen on getting hurt, getting his uniform dirty or smelling like the Friday evening garbage can. He contemplated running away or slipping quietly out so that no one would notice that he was missing. He prayed like never before; he prayed that his name would not be called. He had revelled in all the glory he had received previously, but now he doubted whether it was even worth it.
That’s when Matt felt the tap on his shoulder. It was the coach. It was his turn next. He was being herded to the slaughterhouse; the time had come. Matt could either get up and be the man he always projected he was, or chicken out, feigning sickness.
Matt chose the latter. The coach didn’t argue, and the next person was sent in.
In spite of all the abuse their bodies suffered that day, their team won. It was a great day for the school and an even greater day for the team.
Congratulations were being given out freely. It was funny that the crowd didn’t seem to mind the dirty uniforms or their ‘stinking’ presence. They were being carried on shoulders, hugged and kissed. They received all the adulation on that day.
In all this, one thing stood out. One look at Matt’s clean uniform and the crowd could tell he had not played. He was a bench warmer. And so, though he was the cleanest and probably the most charming, he was not included in the celebration.
The one thing that Matt would have loved to receive was denied him because he had not played.
It is unfortunate that for many of us this might just ring true at the final count.
We all wish to hear the words from the Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in little things…”.
However, the adulation of that Audience of One may be missing because we did not ‘play’.
All that you learned and all the practice you have had will not amount to anything, unless you get down to play the game.
Come on then, get off the bleachers. Join in the play.
“Harvest is plenty, Laborers are few”