I read an article in Sports Illustrated a few weeks back reflecting on the life of the high school basketball coach who sent Michael Jordan to the JV squad. Jordan has always presented that as him being 'cut' from the basketball team and he has pointed to that moment as the distinguishing moment that fueled his fire to become one of the greatest competitors we have known in sports.
Maybe you know what it is like, not to be picked. Maybe you still nurse wounds from 2nd grade recess when you were last picked for kickball. Or maybe it was a school play that you auditioned for and got an ensemble role rather than a lead. Or perhaps a love triangle got bumped from 3 to 2 and you were left out in the cold. Maybe you were overlooked for a job, a promotion, a political office, by your parents, by a teacher, the possibilities are endless.
Acts 1 tells us we are not alone.
The disciples were instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit. And as any good Christian Church-goer knows, when you are waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up, you should have a council meeting to make a big decision (sigh).
So the disciples noticed they were one short of a dozen. 12 was the logical number. 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus chose 12 disciples...They couldn't stick with 11. So they had to replace Judas. So they picked two guys. Joseph-Barsabbas and Matthias. And they prayed and cast lots for the right one to fill the void. Matthias won.
And we can't be certain of what happens to him at that point.
He had obviously built up a good list of credentials and disciple experience for his resume. After all, he'd made it to the final two candidates in the apostle search. But he came up short. Maybe it was the lack of hands on miracles. Or prayer deficiency. Or maybe his references were a little lacking in their endorsement. Or maybe he just got paired up against a spiritual juggernaut in Matthias (notably, we never hear in Scripture about Matthias again either!)
Here's the point. Not getting picked will lead you down three routes.
First, it can make you live for the nay-sayers. Air Jordan came to be because of this response. He was so passionately motivated by spite that he went out to prove everyone wrong. He has repeatedly mentioned being cut as the single greatest motivating factor of his life. While there is virtue in this, there is also a great deal of vice. Spite may be a good motivator, but it does not make you a good person or a good friend. Spite leaves you always needing an adversary or a critic to prove wrong. You will always strive to outperform your peers and appease those whose opinions matter of you.
Second, it could derail you. If I'm not good enough, then what's the point? I wonder if Joseph gave up at that point. Overlooked, insecure, inadequate. 'Not good enough' hurts. Sometimes we put all our eggs in a proverbial basket and when that basket has a hole in it, we give up and give in. Sometimes it is easier to embrace the labels of 'failure', 'not good enough', and 'weak', rather than seek out the redemptive side of being shaped and challenged by the process.
The third option is that the process presses you deeper into your true identity. If I am courageous and confident enough in who God has made me, I won't live in spite of others. And I won't live in fear or sadness, derailed from a life filled with passion and purpose. No instead, I go to the deeper places God beckons. To find my identity more and more in Jesus. I don't have to prove myself, because I have been bought with a price. I don't have to suffer in hopelessness, because my hope is squarely on Jesus and his cross and resurrection.
So much of what drives us is based on insecurity. And the message for Joseph-Barsabbas...the message for you and me...the message of Easter from the God who conquered the grave is...
"You are secure in me and only me."
And believe me when I say, THAT is GOOD NEWS.