Do you ever make yourself out to be the hero? Watching a movie, reading a novel… do you find yourself identifying with and casting your role as one of the main characters? Identifying with their quirks, finding yourself in their struggles, aspiring to their successes?
I can think of a few books and movies that I favor myself a bit like the antagonist. And there has been more than one occasion that I’ve fancied myself like the hero. Yet, whatever similarities I find between myself and the hero, we aren’t one in the same.
There is another place I’m finding that, as a believer, I have to constantly be on guard of my thinking. Because: I’m not the hero of the Bible. And you know what? It isn’t even written all about me.
Shocking, I know. It’s okay to laugh at me. Because that sure does seem egocentric of me and possibly a little delusional if I was to think I’m the hero of the Bible. ‘Cause after all, that is God… everybody knows that. Don’t they?
Think of this for a minute, though: Do you ever have those verses of scripture that speak so clearly to your life situations, almost as if they were written just for you? Maybe, like me, you identify with them so strongly they become life verses, a piece of scripture to encourage you, give identity, and guide your daily living.
The thing is, I’m telling you if we really look deeply into this, sometimes those verses become a stumbling block to us. Why, you ask? After all, if the Word of God is true then why would it be a problem to find myself in these verses? Well… I think this is a big struggle we face. No, really, I do because of this question: What if we try to find ourselves in verses that aren’t the story God is writing for us?
We see stories of the lives of people like Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Mary, Paul, and Timothy and we remember how they were chosen. We see how God used unlikely people in unimaginable ways as a part of God’s plan. And then we find application to our lives, find ourselves in their stories and begin to write their story as ours as well.
The Bible is the word of God, given to us to tell us God’s story. The Word teaches us about who God is, shows us His character, tells us about humanity, who we are in God, and how then we should live… then we can find where we are in scripture. It isn’t that these scriptures aren’t about us but that when we find who God is then we find who we are in Him.
The danger then, can be found in one of the hardest experiences we may face: when we aren’t chosen. We can become disoriented in our faith when God doesn’t do what we expected God to do in our life. We can find ourselves angry with someone else who got what we thought was something meant for us instead. We can find ourselves making bad decisions as we try to force an outcome we were sure was what God had promised to do for us.
As I said: one of the hardest experiences we may face is when we aren’t chosen.
You might be thinking: Come on, Jill. I’m not chosen all the time. It isn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, just the other day the grocery store was SUPER full and the checkout lines were WAY too long. Another register opened and the cashier called the people behind me to go to her line. See, I’m not always chosen. What’s the big deal?”
And you’d be right. All the time, every day, maybe even multiple times a day… we aren’t chosen. And the world doesn’t end. Then again… for many of us, well, it does. Might not be the cashier example that rocks your world, that type of thing might make you angry but it usually doesn’t send you into a tailspin.
But what about things that mean more to us… those things we want with all our heart… those things that we are just sure God wants for us as well. And what about when we aren’t chosen? What happens then when what we wanted so much and felt the assurance that God wanted for us too doesn’t come to be for us?
I find that it can be easy to remember the scriptures of the good stuff and the people who were chosen by God. But, you know, it doesn’t always happen that way. Do you know the story of Barsabbas? Nope, not Barabbas- the name you might hear once a year on Easter, while the spelling is close, it is not the same guy. In fact, the name, Barsabbas isn’t even recognized by my spell check. And truth be told I couldn’t remember the guy’s name without looking it up. I knew he existed but I didn’t even know his name. Poor guy… Anyway, here’s how his story goes, you can find the whole thing in Acts 1 (click on that link if you want to read it).
The book of Acts starts where the gospel accounts leave off, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, with Jesus being taken into heaven. After all this goes on, verse 12 says that the apostles returned to Jerusalem.
13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Peter recounted Judas’ decision to betray Christ and his subsequent death. Quoting from the book of Psalms, Peter showed that it was time to determine who would take this 12th place of leadership amongst their group.
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
And there you have it… the one and only mention of Barsabbas in scripture and all we know is that he wasn’t chosen. Oh, Barsabbas… he wasn’t chosen and we barely even remember he existed. Poor guy.
But then again, maybe not.
I think… well I think it is only a sad story if we hold onto the presupposition he was supposed to be chosen, the thought that the best outcome, the favored position was to be chosen. Only a letdown if we believe the only glory is in getting the starring role. Only a disappointment when we expect the Bible to be the story where he is the star.
It isn’t sad because God made His will clear. It isn’t a letdown because we trust that God knew what was best and which man was the right to be selected. It isn’t a disappointment because we know that God is glorified.
We can trust that God knew what He was doing when Barsabbas was not chosen. We don’t have to put on extra clauses that God new some secret sin or weakness about the man that would make Matthias a better choice. We don’t have to try and explain that maybe Matthias had followed Jesus longer, been a better listener, won the popularity contest. We don’t even have to say that God had something better in store for Barsabbas (even if that might be what happened) No, instead we can choose trust God.
That choice, to trust God, might be a little bit easier when we look at Barsabbas’ story than it is when we look closely at our own or the lives of those we care about. But what if we could have that perspective of our own story? What if we could see that not being chosen was as good as being chosen because we can trust the author of the story?
I think that would be a “game-changer” for us sometimes, how about you?