Friday, April 29, 2011

It's okay to be Second...

When I was a first grade teacher, asking the kids to "line up" at the door was always comical.  First graders cannot just walk to the door.  They *must* run as fast as possible, elbowing every other child out of the way as they race to be FIRST!!  No matter how many times I sent a kid to the rear of the line to be the "Leader of the Back," I could always count on the fact that the next time we lined up, that same kid would again smash his or her way to the front of the line.  The desperate need to be first rarely lessoned.

Kids ALWAYS want to be FIRST.... And when you think about it... grown-ups usually want to be first too:  the first to get the glory, the big paycheck, the best house.  "Keeping up with The Joneses" is a never-ending competition for some families.

For example, we have some great friends who once built a house.  All of the other houses in their neighborhood were also newly-built and just had dirt yards.  Everyone was just trying to grow grass.  But our friends had a plan... in the middle of one fall night, under the cloak of darkness, our friends snuck outside and planted 100 daffodil bulbs.  They were hoping that come spring, while everyone sat back looking at "just grass," their house would have this EXPLOSION of COLOR as all of the daffodils sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere.  They would actually BE "The Joneses" for that brief moment.  Everyone in the neighborhood would want the yard with all of the bright and happy daffodils.

It still makes me giggle... imagining them sneaking out to plant all of those bulbs at midnight...!  But the need to be "first," can actually take completely rational, educated adults... and turn them into crazy people.

This week, I took Jack and Luke to see the movie, Soul Surfer.  It's the story of 13-year old Bethany Hamilton who, in October 2003, had her left arm eaten off by a shark while she was surfing.  Do you remember being 13?  The peer pressure?  The social angst?  I know that when I was 13, if I wore the wrong clothes to school, I was a complete mess.  I cannot imagine having the fortitude to just shrug off the stares of other people and say, "Yup... I am missing my arm... let's move on."  (or something similar!).  

Bethany credits her faith in Jesus for her amazing attitude.  Instead of wallowing in the "WHY ME?!!!!!" stage, she grabs her surfboard and figures out a way to surf one armed... enough that she wins a national championship just 2 years after her shark attack.  Since then, she has used her fame/notoriety/infamy to show God's love to others.  She has figured out that God had a plan for her all along - that He never abandoned her - and that He has allowed her to do more with one arm than she ever could have done with two.

Can you imagine the sheer number of people - kids and grown-ups alike - who have been inspired by her story?  People who have suffered incredible hardships or pain?  I know that I'm feeling a little less inclined to complain about stupid stuff... I keep hearing Woody's voice from Toy Story, "Did you hear what I said? I AM MISSING MY ARM!!!"   My frustrations or problems seem a little bit dumb when you compare them to this.  And when you compare your own issues to the major pain and suffering that Jesus experienced through the crucifixion?  Well... it's much easier to accept that "I am second."  GOD is first... He is in control... and He has a plan... for each and every one of us.

Bethany Hamilton figured out that she doesn't have to be first either.  She's willing to sit second to God and let Him work miracles through her.  Want to hear it in her own words?  

Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One.
I was dead.  But look!  I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys to Death and Hell.
Revelation 1:17 

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 20:16

:) Mags
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1 comment:

Cindi said...

I want to see this movie so bad.