“A view from the bench” sounds nice. It makes me think about the still, perfectly placed benches at the park … where the best breeze, the best view can be had … and usually the best thoughts become your companion.
A few months ago, that picturesque thought was not what it was in my heart. The word in my heart was: BENCHED. I had been benched. I thought it was just for a weekend, but it seems to be the word of the season. Boo. No one likes to be benched. Benched means you aren’t in the game, you aren’t where the action is. Benched means you are just sitting.
The word “benched” became my word of the season when one of my favorite weekends of the year had arrived. We had prepared and planned and prayed for the 200 plus guests that were coming for a weekend away. I treasure seeing what the Lord does in these family camps. I love the front row view I get to have. I worry that I won’t get to visit with each guest because I know the relationships can be so rich. I LOVE these weekends.
Until the stomach bug hits. And then I found myself benched. Benched completely from the weekend.
Its one thing to be sat down, timed out, silenced by a coach, teammate, leader … you can get mad at them. You can roll your eyes at them. It seems justified to stomp your feet as you leave.
But to be benched by God. Ugh. Somewhere we were told that you aren’t supposed to get mad at Him. But I did. I was not happy at all that I had been benched by the great Almighty Coach. I pouted my way into a funk. I doubted my purpose on the Team. I rolled my eyes at Him and barely wanted to listen to Him. My spiritual arms were crossed and my eternal bottom lip had assumed the position.
And that is where the lesson (the oh. so. painful. lesson) begins.
It seems that I can handle BIG lessons a little easier. People rally. Meals are delivered. We are dependent on God. Nothing else matters except Him. It is more natural to put all of life on pause and fix your eyes just on Him.
But these little lessons … UGH, these little daily lessons (#*@!) … slow to learn, small to see and oh so significant when we (finally!) catch a clue. And because our Lord is faithful (ONLY because He is faithful) I am beginning to see a much better view from my bench…
This season my bench is the driver’s seat of a car. I spend most of my day shuttling kids in twenty minute increments all over Comal County. And we aren’t even a “busy” family … but a few activities here and there keep us hopping. I am not alone, I know. I see a kajillion other parents darting about town. But I feel alone. Alone in my car and in my heart trying so hard to piece together moments and thoughts of what I should be investing in. My identity is not at ALL what it was even three months ago. In other seasons, I could spend chunks of time diving into good rich time with people, writing, reaching out, serving … investing in things that I felt made a difference … eternally. But not this season. This season is choppy and seemingly insignificant.
Allison’s (my daughter) bench is on the sideline of a court. For a girl that has never played volleyball, she found herself on the A team … well, on the bench of the A team. She gets on the court a bit … but mostly on the bench. We trust and support the coaches, but her expectations just aren’t playing out like she thought. I suppose expectations can be benched too.
Meanwhile Libby’s ideas are seeming to get benched. (Sorry dear daughters … seems that “my lesson” is bleeding into your lives). She has great ideas and is a “ready to go hard worker” that just isn’t being utilized right now. She is feeling unheard and not fully a part of a team she serves on.
And all the while, God is sitting right next to us, right where He placed us and showing us just how to sit gracefully and take it all in. He is like the father sitting next to the child, delighting in pointing out all the marvelous things while sitting in His presence. (of course, like any child … it takes a while for me to stop squirming.)
He is showing Libby how to follow. She is seeing that people can only learn to lead if they have followers. The idea of being a strong and good follower, silent supporter, cheerleader to the coach is seen as very valuable now. And she is realizing that some good ideas might be really great ideas later … hold on to them.
Allison has shown us all how to be the best seat warming cheerleader there is. No one jumps higher or cheers louder than her. Her purpose in wearing the jersey and stepping into the huddle might not be what she thought … but it sure has a place on the team.
And me … God is sitting right next to me on that dang bench. And he invited some friends to join us … Mary and Martha. Man, they show up a lot in my lessons … and I roll my eyes at them a lot too. Martha and I, like most women, are kindred spirits … we get things done. Mary, I love it when I choose to be like you … sitting and soaking in Jesus.
There is a time for me to be the host-est with the most-est, in the thick of the action, in the lead of the game, tending to the masses. And there is also a time for me to be sitting still … this time in the front seat of the car (thankfully without the stomach bug). The action is simple and in small segments, the audience is just two or three and there is no doubt that the purpose is eternal. My position and role in the game of life looks different than it has in the past … but my purpose hasn’t changed: still loving God and loving others.
And, ya know, I am becoming okay with it, dare I say even seeing divine purpose in it (gasp). I still wear the Jersey. The Coach still has me in the huddle. I am still on the Team. Fellow players need a pat on the back and a water refill and I want to be ready for them. The coach needs to teach me some things by allowing me to simply watch. The perspective is different from the bench, I am seeing some fabulous moves I had never seen before from teammates. Ideas and disciplines are being sharpened. And whenever the next season rolls around I will be ready to be all in.
I am allowing some of my plans, dreams and goals will be benched for later … they can wait … some ideas are really better later anyway.
Right now, I will enjoy the view from the bench.
*Luke 10:38-42, Ecclesiastes 3, Psalms 46, 1 Corinthians 12:12-28