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“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

June, 2018

There’s a local restaurant where my wife, Charlotte, and I go for lunch after church sometimes. Its parking garage is next door to the Animal Protective Association and sometimes you can hear the doggies caterwauling (dogerwauling perhaps?)

The dogs are probably responding to noise from the garage and saying something like “Hey! Who’s there?” But they could be saying more. The day we adopted our last dog, Teri, we were in a large building filled with hundreds of dogs, cats, and other critters of every imaginable description. And, of course, the dogs were barking up a storm. You’ll have to pardon my projection and anthropomorphizing but I can imagine what they were “saying”: One might be “saying,” “Hey, pick me! I’m frisky and I love to play fetch!” Another might be “saying,” “No, pick me! I’ll lick your face and I’m great with kids!” Yet another might be “saying,” “No, pick me! I’ll be a good watchdog!”

Of course, I don’t really know what the dogs were “saying” or if they were “saying” anything at all but I do know each of them wanted to be loved by human companions. The need to be chosen, to be loved, isn’t restricted to dogs; humans have that need too. We all want to be special to someone.

After Samuel rejected Saul as king of Israel (1 Sam. 15:26), he was faced with the responsibility of finding a new king. Samuel felt God telling him to choose a new king from among the sons of Jesse (1 Sam. 16:1), so he went to Jesse’s home in Bethlehem (16:4). You’ve heard the story: When he saw Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, he was sure God had chosen him (16:6) but the voice of God told him, “‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.’” (16:7b Christian Standard Bible). Jesse paraded his sons past Samuel and, one by one, Samuel was forced to reject them (16:8-10). Finally, Samuel asked, “‘Are these all the sons you have?’” (16:11a CSB). And Jesse answered, “‘There is still the youngest, . . . but right now he’s tending the sheep.’” (16:11b CSB). When David came in, Samuel could see that, “He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance.” (16:12a CSB). That might have been enough for Samuel or for many of us. But it wasn’t why God chose him. Samuel immediately heard God’s voice saying, “‘Anoint him, for he is the one.’” (16:12b CSB). So Samuel poured oil on David’s head and proclaimed him Godֹ’s chosen, the future king.

God doesn’t look at our external attributes either. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.” (1 Cor. 1:26 CSB). We spend our time trying to please God, saying, “Pick me! I have faith!” Or “Pick me! I’ll follow wherever you lead!” or even “Pick me! I have beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance!” And in the process we probably sound like barking dogs to God, yapping for attention, begging for love. But when God chooses us, it has nothing to do with any merit of ours. Instead, it’s “. . . according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Tit. 3:5b CSB).

God doesn’t choose us because God needs us (Psa. 50:9-12; Acts 17:24-25) but because we need God. There are people all around us who need God, who need love, who need a loving relationship like the one we’ve found. God can take us out of the spiritual “animal shelter” and bring us into fellowship, and God can do the same for others.

“Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:26-31 CSB.)

Copyright © 2018 by David Phelps