I've been 'chewing' on something since yesterday.
Here's the image: I'm sitting on the sidelines watching my 6 year old play soccer. My 3 year old is having a hard time sitting still through 2 soccer games, but all the while is super encouraging. He's yelling encouragement to nearly every player on the field by name, and clapping. :) All the while, I know that his chief desire is not to be on the sideline; he wants to be IN the game. But amazingly, he's content to be on the sideline with mommy and daddy, and is a blessing/encouragement to those that are playing.
Hopefully I won't lose you as I make a spiritual analogy here that actually brought tears to my eyes on the sidelines (I know you're thinking, GOSH Sarah, you are such a crier! I know, I know...) I've felt in some seasons of my life, like I'm on the sideline- and that the REAL ministry is out happening somewhere else, while I'm at home, raising my kids, doing things that go 'unseen.'
I thought of the passage in Acts chapter 6 that talks about how in the days of the early church, they had been so consumed with spreading the message that they realized they had been neglecting the care of the poor. So they set out to select some men to be dedicated to service, so that the others could be dedicated to preaching/teaching. But you'll notice they didn't say "those most spiritual/gifted among us should go preach the word and the rest of you stay and wait tables"... What they actually did was choose 7 who were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom... then they presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them (commissioned them for service).
I love looking at this story, and realizing how intentional it was, that specific men would be dedicated and commissioned for service, and others would be sent out for the public ministry. It was not those who hadn't yet 'arrived' or that weren't as 'good' at the ministry... it was men (as the Message translation puts it) 'whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense.' I love that they were actually commissioned (which usually means 'sent out') to STAY and wait tables.
Anyway- back to the soccer game. My exhausted 6 year old kept looking back at us when he was really tired. He would see us hooting and hollering and cheering him on, and he would find more energy and play harder... He would smile and motion to us after he scored a goal... And when he subbed out, he fell, breathing hard, across my lap, and we handed him his water and told him how proud we all were. It totally made me look at my life and evaluate how well I was doing in my sidelines job. Am I encouraging and supporting those that are out in more public ministry? Am I realizing the value/importance of my role? Am I seeing that yes, those on the field get to make all the goals, but they're also the ones who are more likely to get hurt, bruised, and exhausted?
It was just a sweet reminder that God fully intended me & my three year old to be doing the job of 'encouragement' and for my 6 year old to be out there playing in the game. Imagine how strange it would have been for me or my 3 year old to sub in and start playing the game because we 'really wanted to play.' Ugh- how awkward... Is that how it looks when we try to assume a roll in God's kingdom that was meant for someone else?
My final thought: The other cool perk about being there, encouraging the players, is that my 3 year old got to share in the team snack after the game. :) I'll let you reflect and draw your own parallels here. :) Happy Easter!