I had an unusual experience in a quiet time recently. I was up early and in the rocking chair on the porch with the fan on. My quiet times currently consist of reading a Psalm, a chapter of Proverbs, and I am currently working through 1 Samuel. I then spend about 20 minutes trying to practice quiet and silence as I seek to enter God’s presence with my whole self. I finish with some time to pray through the issues of the day.

As I was starting the time of silence and was trying to quiet my mind, I became aware that I was feeling a certain anxiety that I hadn’t felt since I was a kid.

I don’t know about your childhood, but mine consisted of a lot of pick-up games of all kinds. In the summer we played baseball and kickball, in the fall it was football and rotten apple wars, and in the winter it was snowball fights and hockey. We played a lot of war games in the woods and built a lot of forts. There were also plenty of adventure games like Capture the Flag, Team Freeze Tag, and the like.

Because we had a fluid group of participants available, we played all of those games by pickup. Two people of roughly equal skill would be captains and they would rock-paper-scissors for who picked first. They picked until everyone was on a team. If we had an odd number, everyone but the captains would randomly substitute in and out on both teams during whatever game we were playing.

Do you remember the anxiety of standing there and waiting to be picked? I don’t know how you felt, but there was always a deep desire (think longing) for me to get the affirmation of an early pick, which signified that I was chosen and wanted. I remember the anxiety of the potential shame of being the last one picked, because I knew the team I ended up on had to settle for me rather than really wanting me. The only thing worse than being picked last was to be the dreaded pity pick (that was where someone picked you earlier than last out of pity and everyone else knew it). The thought of being settled for or pitied was painful. Something very deep in me wants to be wanted for who I am and what I can bring to the team. Something deep in me is repulsed by the idea of being settled for.

So early one morning this week sitting on my lanai – 50 years after becoming a follower of Jesus, 27 years after being ordained a pastor, and having preached more than a thousand sermons – I realized that, while I know in my head that Jesus has picked me for His team, a part of my heart has always felt that He also had to settle for me. I can’t tell you how painful that thought is.

That’s when the old familiar anxiety I haven’t felt in years rose up in me.

Almost involuntarily the cry of my heart came, picking up momentum as it tumbled out of my head.

“Pick me, Jesus. Please, please, please pick me. Not out of pity and please don’t just settle for me. Pick me because You want me on Your team, not because You’re so nice You have to take me.”

Now the Hallmark ending would be that, in that moment, I heard the voice of God calling my name and picking me while joy and love washed over me like a tsunami. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie, and that isn’t what happened.

Instead, I got to quietly sit with my fear and my longing, my heartache and my desire in God’s presence. He gave me the extraordinary gift of just being with me in the quiet. He didn’t appear to be in any rush to fix OR condemn me for being how I was. Instead, He sat with me and let me be my broken self in His presence. I found comfort in being with Him, much like a frightened child in the middle of the night finds in his father’s presence. And then my quiet time was over, and it was time to move on. I have found that, rather than satisfy my longing for assurance that God picked me, God’s quiet response has only made the longing deeper. Those few quiet moments have lingered with me since.

I find comfort in the knowledge that God has invited us to seek His face. I find comfort in the fact that He is not afraid to welcome us when we are burdened by fear, by longing, by grief, or the contradictory places we journey in the space between our head and our heart. I find comfort and incredible solace in the God who is willing to sit with us in the quiet just as we are.

I hope you have or will find comfort in those things too.

Yours in the Journey,

Pastor Tim