Posts Tagged ‘chosen’

passover angelBack in the day when the Israelites were finally released from Egypt, it happened at great cost, the lives of all firstborn children and animals throughout the land (not to mention the previous nine plagues), except for those protected by God in Goshen: the chosen ones were passed over. How often are we passed over, thinking it’s a bad thing, when in reality, it is for a greater good?

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. [Exodus 12:12-13]

So often, God’s timing is unclear in the moment. Only in hindsight, can we see the consequences.

I remember how disappointed I was when I was passed over for promotion after promotion in my work. And yet, looking back, the outcomes had their own blessings. In one case, a less challenging position offered me the opportunity to get a second Master’s degree. In another case, I was able to learn and grow in the cyber world and non-traditional librarianship (at the time). I learned what it meant to become an early adopter and to forge new paths in the computerized world. And later, another loss, merely opened a door that brought me back to my own community, where I now live, work, and worship. I am content here.

Perhaps it is a wisdom that comes with age and experience. The very thing that appears to be a calamity transforms into a grace.

Of course, in the Exodus time, the Israelites were saved from the grief of losing their firstborn children, but then they also left everything they knew to flee into a desert that challenged them daily. Not everyone was so sure that this passing over would come to good. Not all could not see that promised land of milk and honey; only those who embraced their faith in God.

It is no different today. I must believe in God’s ultimate plan for my good, or at the least, the good that may come after me because of where I live or how I live or the children I send forth into the world.

Today, in the New York Times, I read an OpEd piece by Frank Bruni, and although this piece was driven by his observations about age and wisdom in sports, specifically Peyton Manning, he included additional observations about maturity and our response to life events.

And it’s no accident that many of us, while remembering and sometimes yearning for the electricity of first loves and the metabolism of our salad days, don’t really want to turn back the clock. We know that for everything that’s been taken away from us, something else has been given. . . . We’re short on flat-out exuberance. We’re long on perspective. . . . Life is about learning to look past what’s lost to what’s found in the process . . . [Frank Bruni, Maturity’s Victories]


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I’m sure the intention of the phrase, “chosen sister” is that of a sister in the flesh who is also a believer. And yet, for me, something else resonated which makes me want to take a little mind excursion into the value of friendships.

II John 13
The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.
[NIV, 1984]

The second letter of John did not hold much new for me. I see it as a very concise review of his first letter as he writes on the importance of loving others, obedience to Christ, and protecting the Spirit from within from deceptions and deceptive people.

However, when I read the last phrase about the lady’s “chosen sister,” a deeper chord struck. I suppose it’s because I don’t have any blood sisters and like most women who don’t, wish I did. There is a bond between sisters that is unique.

On occasion, we all encounter a friend who becomes as close as a sister, or maybe even closer. Those friends were chosen: either by one another or, in the case of the Presence, chosen by God. These relationships are singular and should be cherished.

I have had a few such women friends who have marked my life and I am grateful for them. To them I give testimony this day.

Becky & Mary were girlfriends from high school with whom I walked through a complex time, both personally and culturally. It was the time of agitated civil rights, the Vietnam war, and our own search for identity. The times in which we lived branded us and even after forty years, we are still engaged (no matter how frequently or infrequently) and that link makes us genuinely care about each other as well as our children and the lives they are leading. They are chosen sisters.

In college, I met Kathy, another chosen sister with whom I have experienced great losses and gains, marriages and divorces, fertility and infertility, grief and joy. There have been months, even years, when we lost each other, but the cord was stronger than time we lost and we endured. Our big joke now is that we will age together, rocking on a porch somewhere, hopefully near the ocean or the mountains. Our children continue to be part of both of our lives.

In recent years, Janis & Kathleen have been the women who have walked beside me in faith and trials. They adopted my children, in one case, as a Godparent even, and I know their prayers cover me and my kids in a cloud of light as I do for theirs (which takes longer since they both have five children apiece, LOL). These chosen sisters entered my life through the church, our prayers and worship of the same God bind us too.

Of course, there have been other key sisters that God chose for me: women whose lives crossed mine for a season. Each of them were a blessing that cannot be cast off whether it was for ten years or ten weeks or even less. And there are women today who are in my life but we have not quite “chosen” fully. We love, we care, we connect, but we are not laid bare.

Friendships are harder to sustain in this age. We are either too busy to commit the time it takes to bridge our lives or too insecure to open our arms and expose our hearts. I am guilty.

Every friendship is a gift. And just as I need the Presence of God within, I need you, chosen sister or nearly sister or soon to be sister, on the outside. And you need me. Let us choose more freely.

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I’m not feelin’ anything ’bout bein’ chosen today.
I say, I’m not feelin’ anything ’bout bein’ chosen today.
I’m wonderin’ then, is the good Lord tellin’ me a different way?

I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I used to get a lot of comfort from being “chosen.” I guess it just came along with the package of being saved. That was how I was taught: God chose me, like an adopted child, I was pulled from the fray.

So, why, after thirty years of contentment, am I uncomfortable now? Why does it feel a little uppity and “I’m better than you” [see Urban Dictionary]. Gosh, I could get a coffee mug with that phrase or I could put WWJD on it or some other Christian cliche. Is there a difference? I’m in and you’re out; Red Rover, Red Rover, let one more of my friends come over.

Can I put a spin on this that won’t be catty?

Maybe it’s a privilege thing. I get some clarity and because of it, I can share what I see. It’s a responsibility thing?

I guess, I am more comfortable in the thanksgiving mode: thank you God for saving my soul. And it weren’t for You, I’d probably be dead. My twenties were a downward spiral because I was experiencing the other kind of blues: the “non-chosen” blues for not being in the right group, not getting chosen for parts on plays, not being a success, not handling my relationships well, etc. When I experienced the Christ, I didn’t feel particularly chosen then either, just switched over to a different game where those other situations didn’t matter as much.

Just because I’m sure that I’m sure that I’m sure that God is real and Christ is real and the Holy Spirit is real and I have a chance to “become” in a way that I never could before or ever wanted to before, does make me want to talk about it and write about it, but chosen?

Of course, I know God is sovereign and maybe there is a “choosing” dimension to all of this. But for now . . . I’ll leave the discussion to others.

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Can’t even begin to say how uncomfortable I am with the phrase “chosen by God.” I think it’s supposed to be a comforting thought, instead I feel traitorous to all the “rejected” ones. After all, I grew up the last one picked for kickball, I know what it means to be left out.

Romans 11:5
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Sometimes I’m glad I’m not Jewish and have to contend with the idea of an entire people group being “chosen.” No thanks. This chosen thing carries a lot of responsibility. It’s like being a perpetual PK (preacher’s kid). Every mistake is amplified. Every wrong word is noted. Every outfit is scrutinized. On a national level, it’s the policies, wars, peace treaties, etc. It’s being under a microscope.

Nonetheless, God is in the choosing business, whether I am comfortable with the idea or not. Some people die, some live, some people win the lottery, some lose their loved ones, some people struggle with illness while others struggle with poverty or stigmas. There are lots and lots of things that are out of our control. How we respond to our circumstances is our responsibility. That is where we choose.

Being chosen for a 4th grade kickball team was usually based on my ability (or lack thereof) to kick and catch a ball. The few times I wasn’t a default choice, but chosen at the beginning, I felt the pressure of performing. But of course, whether I was chosen first or last, I still couldn’t kick worth a toot or catch. And so the cycle would continue.

But God’s choosing parameters are outside anything we can possibly understand. Our “goodness” or “abilities” do not put us on God’s team. This is the grace part.

When I chose to follow God through Christ, I was fulfilling my small part of the equation, but truthfully, God had already done an awful lot of reaching out to me first. Am I unique because I’m a follower of Christ? Don’t think so. Am I part of some remnant? Doubt it.

This is all a mystery to me. But I do know God is a God of love and mercy and grace. This I truly know. And I believe anyone can cry out to God: Pick me! Pick me! And God will choose by grace.

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Acts 2:1
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Pentecost, in Old Testament times, was actually considered a Feast Day. It was a day to bring the “first fruits” of the harvest to the Lord. It was offered in thanksgiving of what had been given to the people.

This day, we are celebrating the high school graduation of our oldest son. In many ways, he is our first fruit. He was a gift of God to us and and now we return him to the will and way of God. He turns 18 in a few more weeks and then he’ll be off to college, seeking his own future, making many of his own choices. Thanks be to God for the gift of our son.

Sergei was a foundling on the streets of Riga, Latvia. He has a few memories of his life in that country, but not many. At one time, he had a family there, but he does not remember how he was separated from them. He was in a boys’ gang for awhile on the street, but he doesn’t really remember how long… it could have been a day, a week, or even longer. When he was found by the police, he was taken to the orphanage and given a birth date and a name on June 27th. On January 21st, 1998, he entered the United States with a new name and a new family. He was chosen by God for a new life.

We gather today as a family to celebrate his harvest…. and God is with us.

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