Boy with his hand raised

Pick Me! Pick Me!

Boy with his hand raisedOne of the reasons I like being around young children is because their excitement is infectious—even when it is about inconsequential or mundane things. Michelle and I have been blessed by the fact that Augie is especially able to appreciate life's ordinary occurrences. There is no school day where he isn't thrilled to hear the words, "The bus is here" or where an evening meal of noodles doesn't excite him. While the rest of the world is trying to find the next best thing, Augie is enjoying life's smallest and most repetitive events. I will miss when his little-boy, heartfelt "Fanks" disappears, but I suspect it'll be replaced by a grown man's "Thanks"; somehow I can't imagine the contagious glow that permeates his being will ever disappear.

How about you? Do you remember as a kid being excited…really excited…about stuff? What about at school when the teacher needed an assistant? Did you launch your hand up as quickly as possible, implicitly shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!"?

If not, there must have been some other time where you really, really wanted to be chosen. I think about American Idol, where so many contestants risk heartbreaking failure (and potential ridicule) to get chosen to enter a process where they have to go through the same nail-biting experience again and again. As they look at the panel of celebrity judges can't you see, "Pick me! Pick me!" in their anxious and pleading eyes?

Or perhaps it is a promotion at work that you had your sights on. You have worked hard, you are very skilled, you can use the raise, and you deserve the advancement. If you didn't think it was a little crass or you were a bit more gutsy, you might march into your bosses office and humbly demand, "Pick me! Pick me!"

I still haven't hit on anything where you (terribly) wanted to be chosen? Maybe some award or recognition? To be accepted as a student at the college you wanted to attend? As the love interest of the cutest boy or girl in school?

I am hoping that I've hit on something that reminds you of that feeling (and not of all the disappointments in not being chosen). With the assumption that I've been successful, I want you to read these verses:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:35-38, English Standard Version).

On the surface it may seem hard to connect those words from Jesus to a piece titled, "Pick Me! Pick Me!" However, think about what our Lord was saying. His caring, sensitive heart saw a great need—"harassed and helpless" sheep who were short a shepherd. Then He turns to his disciples and says (in part), "Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." It seems to me that we have an Isaiah moment here:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

In fairness to the disciples, Scripture is silent as to what reaction, if any, Jesus got to His prayer request (I could imagine someone like impetuous Peter impulsively responding, "Here I am! Send me!") I suspect, however, that no one spoke up, not even with the more mellow approach of a youthful Samuel when he finally realized Who was calling him:

And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears" (1 Samuel 3:10).

Christian, I have a question for you. When you look around at your neighbors, your town, your country, your world…do you see harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd? Trust me, they are there.

What is your reaction?

I suppose you could respond, "Alan, in those initial verses Jesus didn't actually ask anyone to be a harvest laborer" or "The Lord hasn't asked me personally to be an evangelist." How about this then?:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

"But, Alan, in that selection Jesus was talking to His eleven disciples." Okay, then:

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:18-20a).

Or as the Good News Translation says:

All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also (2 Corinthians 5:18, emphasis mine).

There is a great harvest. God is looking for laborers. Will you say, "Speak, for your servant hears"? "Here I am! Send me."?

"Pick me! Pick me!"?

As you ponder your answer, remember the one who, in the midst of unimaginable agony (and faced with even greater before the day was through) said, "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name" (John 12:27-28a).

Let us also glorify the Father's name with our response. Pick me! Pick me!

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Alan is an ordinary guy, living in a small, high plains Colorado town...and humbled to be a minister of God...

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