Picked Last at Recess

As a kid growing up in school I looked forward to two parts of my day . . . lunch and recess. I really don’t know why I looked forward to either. Lunch was seldom a gourmet experience. Recess was a combination of anticipation and anxiety. The anticipation came from having a welcome break from academic mediocrity. The anxiety came from knowing that if we played kickball, basketball or football there would be the choosing of teams. I was seldom picked first unless the captain had a temporary lapse of sanity. At the same time, I was seldom picked last. But, knowing I was never the first choice, I would always worry about being picked last. Every day it was the same mental routine . . . heart rate increases, breathing becomes difficult, don’t look needy or over-confident, avoid eye contact with the captains, breath easy that I was not picked last.

Have you ever been picked last? It stinks! It’s demoralizing! It crushes confidence!

If you’ve ever been picked last you’re in good company. In 1 Samuel 16, God informed Samuel that He was going to choose a new king to lead His people. That king would be a son of Jesse from Bethlehem. Jesse had eight sons and evidently brought seven before Samuel. The message Samuel received from God with each of those sons was, “NOT him!” In fact, Samuel was sure that Eliab, Jesse’s first son, was God’s choice. But God’s message to Samuel was clear. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV)

After examining seven of eight sons, Samuel asked Jesse if he had another son. Jesse then told Samuel of his youngest who was tending sheep. That son was David. David was not just the youngest; his father didn’t even consider him to have potential to be chosen as king. David was not just picked last . . . he was picked last by his dad. Maybe all his dad saw was a kid. Maybe all his dad saw was rosy cheeks, red hair and immaturity. Maybe his dad kept him in the fields with the sheep to keep him out of the way.

But get this: he who was last among men was first in the eyes of God! God sees what we do not! God sees what we CANNOT! The last choice among men was used by God to fell giants and defeat armies. The last choice among men was used by God to lead the leaderless and defend the defenseless.

When that insecure little boy on a playground who is anxious about being picked last reappears in the middle-aged man I am today, I find comfort in David.

I find comfort in knowing that when I feel last among men I am special in the eyes of God. I was created in the image of God, which is no small thing.

I find comfort in knowing that when I feel last among men, God can use me for His plan. In spite of all my fears, insecurities, idiosyncrasies, failures, flaws and mistakes, God lets me be part of His story. He not only lets me be part of His story, He lets me play a bigger part than I deserve.

So when you feel last among men, know that you are not last in the eyes of God. Find comfort that God created you in His image, and that is no small thing. Find comfort in knowing that in spite of your fears, insecurities, idiosyncrasies, failures, flaws and mistakes, God invites you to be part of His story.