I entered a writing contest at the last minute Sunday night. It was due at 10pm and I hit send at 9:59. It was the first contest I have entered in exactly three years. Last time I entered I was so hopeful and had this sure feeling that I was going to win. That feeling turned out to be wishful thinking. It was also the last little bit of wind I had left in my sails after a series of disappointing events. After that I no longer dared to dream in regards to my writing, or pretty much anything for that matter.
As I hit send Sunday night a rush of excitement, anticipation, and energy rushed through me. I thought, “This is it. This is really going to happen this time”. It’s not that my story was even that great. It just, I don’t know, felt like maybe all of my stars were finally aligning and this was going to be the big bang that kicked it off. I can’t really put it into words properly.
I found out on Tuesday night that I did not place in the top three for the contest. I was disappointed, but not crushed. I haven’t had the heart to read the top three winning stories yet, but I will. I just need a little time to celebrate the part that truly matters at his moment, which is the fact that I took myself off the bench and got back in the game.
I have felt like I have been living life from the sidelines for a few years now. Sure, I needed to rest and catch my breath. I had to allow some time for my emotional and spiritual injuries to heal. And I needed to study the playbook a little harder. The problem is, the longer I sat on the bench, the more I believed that maybe the Coach was the one that had taken me out of the game, or traded me for a better player. A player that didn’t make so many mistakes, the same mistakes, over and over again. As much as I wanted to play, I felt like the Brett Favre of Christian writing and speaking.
If you are at all familiar with the Bible, you have most likely heard the story of Sarah and Abraham. Abraham was told by God, before he ever had any children, that he would be the father of many nations. In fact, he changed Abraham’s name from Abram to Abraham because the name Abraham literally translates to “father of many nations” in the Hebrew language. For years when Abraham introduced himself he would be saying “I am the father of many nations”, yet when they would ask to meet his family he would have to respond and say “well technically I don’t have any children yet”. I can only imagine how embarrassing that must have been.
I can also imagine how horrible it must have been for Sarah each month as she realized yet another month had gone by and she was not pregnant. Month after month, year after year, she would feel like a failure. I can picture her looking at Abraham and shaking her head no without saying a word. I can picture Abraham hanging his head down wondering if he had misunderstood what God had promised.
Sarah eventually got tired of feeling like a failure and took herself out of the game. Not only did she take herself out of the game, but she also found her replacement. Sarah sat on the sideline and sent her servant Hagar to sleep with Abraham. Seemed like a great idea. Sarah was too old to play and Hagar was still in her prime. Sure enough Hagar became pregnant and gave birth to a son. It didn’t take long for Sarah to regret her decision as she realized she was not meant to sit on the bench- even if her body told her she was too old to play.
God in his mercy honored his word and later blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son of their own. I can imagine how difficult it was for Sarah to get back in the game. I wonder if she got to a point like I did, where it was more miserable to sit on the bench watching others live her dream, than it was to suffer some disappointments and long periods of patient(okay IMpatient) waiting.
When God puts a dream and desire in our heart, he promises to be our Coach for life. He will never bench us. He will never trade us for a new rookie. He will never ever give up on us. If it seems like we have been sidelined we need to trust that he is simply giving us time to rest and catch our breath. And while we are there we should study the Playbook so when its time we can hit the field running.
The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised Genesis 21:1
Girls, God loves you just as much as he loved Sarah. Trust the promises he has whispered to your heart. Trust that you will always be his star quarterback and you will never be permanently benched. Stand up, take a deep breath, and get back in the game!
Love, Grace, and a Great Day to Get Back in The Game,