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Life on the Bench

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

It’s hard to be on the bench when the team is on the field. I guess when they were giving out abilities for sports I was in the wrong line.  It just never was my strong suit. My first and only experience with little league ball didn’t happen till I was probably in the fourth grade.  I joined a team and clearly wasn’t going to be a starter.  When I did play it was right field.  Actually, it was about this time I began to learn about prayer.  As soon as I took the field, I would pray that the other team wouldn’t hit a ball in right field.  That didn’t work too well.  My other and more serious prayer meetings occurred at the plate. I didn’t pray to get on base…I prayed to survive.

So even though I felt safest on the bench, it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  I wanted to be a hero, a winner, and from where I sat the bench was for the guys who weren’t good enough.  It was there that I learned to hate the bench and I would spend the rest of my life relearning that sometimes the bench is where God teaches us our greatest lessons. In fact, I am learning that any place God puts you is the place to be.  The bench is not for losers or second-stringers, no, it is for people willing to trust that He knows best.

In 2018, I had a hard lesson to learn.  My wife Judy and I were leading a mission team to Uganda, East Africa.  We arrived in Africa and made it to the guest house.  My first night there, the night before we were to leave for the islands to work, I came down with the flu…the real flu.  The team had to go on without me and Judy stayed back to help care for me.  Boy, I didn’t like that, but later I did begin to understand it.  It turns out that God raised others to lead, and the team went on to do some great work.  While I hated not being there to lead, God had a better plan.  And, I think He just did it again.

This past weekend was our first Back to School Community Outreach since COVID or as it turned out…in the midst of COVID.  This event draws hundreds of people and as pastor, I was a key leader, and my wife was in charge of the event.  Tuesday, I started having some symptoms of what I thought was my annual sinus thing.  It wasn’t…it was COVID.  I was down and out for the count and Judy was quarantined.  Once again, God chose…God chose…to remove the two key leaders.  The reason? Well, I don’t have all the answers to that one, but I do know He had a plan, and He can be trusted.

If the past is any indicator, it was about giving other leaders a chance to lead and letting the church be the church even when certain people are not there.  It was a challenge. It was a test. It was an opportunity to trust the Lord.  Well, normally, I would have been stomping my feet about being on the bench…but not this time.  No, I’m slowly learning that God is better at being God than I am.  I am learning that He is smarter than me, more caring than me and never, ever, makes a mistake.  My only job is to trust Him and learn whatever He wants me to personally learn.

I didn’t chose this dance with Corena…my pet name for the COVID.  I didn’t ask her to dance…she just cut in and changed my immediate plans.  It happened in 2018 with the flu in Africa and most likely it will happen again sometime in the future. In the Old Testament part of the Bible, God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” My response can only be, “Yes, Lord.”

Fortunately my dance with Corena is almost history and hopefully I have learned all I need to learn from this time on the bench.  I’m sure it includes that no matter what—God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.  Oh, and it also includes another dose of, “Don’t worry, son, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne