I just finished looking through a small box of old memorabilia from my school days. Most of the items are identification cards, letters, and other miscellaneous items. Awards and trophies? No, none of those. On second thought, there were a few that caught my attention. One was a lapel pin with the word “effort” and another with the words “perfect attendance.”
I remember the time these were given out. Toward the end of fourth grade, we were all standing in line in the hallway. Prizes were given for different subjects. I stood there with hopes, but no expectation. Finally I heard my name. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it must have been a mistake. What subject would I get a prize for? When I finally got the item in my hand, it was a pin that read “effort.” It was my second year in fourth grade, and the best I could do was to put in some effort.
The next prize was in sixth grade. Hoping that things would improve, my parents put me in a private school (which only lasted one year). That year I got my second pin, and it read “perfect attendance.” No matter how cold it was, in the rain, snow, or whatever the situation, I went to school. Even when I was sick, it didn’t matter – I would show up. In spite of all my efforts in academics the best commendation for me that year was “perfect attendance.”
Through my high school days, in college, and in Seminary, I was surrounded by classmates who excelled in many things. They were active and popular in various activities such as sports, music, public speaking, and various clubs. But I didn’t find myself excelling in any of these areas. I was just “average” in everything I did.
While I was in Seminary, I helped a friend as he planted a church in that city. I had the opportunity to make some small contributions there in my own way by starting a few small groups. At that time I thought: “Wow. Maybe I can be useful to God.” Then I heard the teachings of John Wimber and I was specifically impacted by the phrase he used so often: “Everyone gets to play.”
In God’s kingdom, “everyone gets to play.” I was the one who was always on the sidelines just kicking stones and walking up and down the sidelines. But in God’s kingdom I get to play. In fact in the Kingdom, I have unlimited opportunity to do the works of God. Without any limitation I get to heal the sick, cast out demons, and tell others about God’s kingdom. Luke tells how he commissioned his disciples “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1-2 ESV). And of course, this was not limited to just the disciples, but to those who believe: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18 ESV).
So, in the church that Jesus began with the disciples, “everyone gets to play.” And most importantly I get to play. Even though I am just average and ordinary, I get to join with God in doing extraordinary things.
So, do you “get to play?” Share your experiences of being average or ordinary. Share it in the comments.
Photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious