Second Place

It was the game of a lifetime for these college players. The number two team was slotted to play the number three team. The number three team had won the national championship the previous year. No one wanted to play them in the playoffs. But here we were. We were playing them. Dumb luck.

The game started out well. It was going in our favor. We were ahead. And then we weren’t. Bad plays were called. Mistakes were made. At the very last play of the game that could have signaled our win, the other team caught the ball in the end zone. We lost.

We won’t play in the national championship game this year. Once again, we lost out in what was billed to be the game of the season.

Oh. There’s always next year. That’s what they say. Whoever they are. But after a winning season, this loss is a huge blow. A sting to the ego. A wrong that can’t be righted.


To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. Ecclesiastes 5:19


Someone else came in second place another time. I wonder if he even knew he was in the running. He didn’t ask for it. But, all of a sudden, there he was. He was in the running to replace Judas as the twelfth disciple. Judas had made some serious mistakes that cost him his life. Someone must replace him. That’s what Scripture says.

So a search was made of all those men who had faithfully followed Jesus from the start right through the end of his human ministry. They were to choose someone who was with them the entire time. Someone who was faithful. Which man would be chosen to replace a traitor? Who would want to fill those shoes? Was that an honor or a curse?

Oh. The remaining eleven prayed about who should be the replacement. And then they rolled dice. After praying, why did they gamble on the outcome? Was that a thing they always did? Was that the custom? Regardless, that’s what they did. They chose Matthias. Not Joseph Barsabbas.

I wonder how Joseph B. felt when he wasn’t chosen to replace Judas. He had been one of the seventy who were called disciples. But he somehow couldn’t break into the ranks of the top twelve. Maybe he wasn’t concerned about that. Maybe he was. We’ll never know. Did he think that he had escaped notoriety by not being chosen? Did he think he was safe from mistreatment and persecution? Did he think he would fly under the radar? Was he relieved or heartbroken?

Joseph Barsabbas. Who was this man, anyway? He may have been the brother of James. One can never know these things for sure. Legend says that he went on to become a bishop. And just as the other twelve disciples, he also died a martyr. Did he know that he would meet a death similar to all the other disciples? Death at the hands of others. At the hands of those who were against his beliefs.

First place is what seems to be the top goal. Number one or none. Why is number one always the goal? No one wants to be thought of as a loser. But losers may have something to prove. Perhaps to others. But mostly to themselves. It’s not for all to win. Sure. Disappointment can set in. And move into resentment. But losing isn’t the end of the world. It can be the start of the next best thing.

I can’t call Joseph B. a loser. After all, becoming a bishop is not for the faint of heart. He was a bishop in a very important city. Sometimes not being chosen is the best thing that can happen in someone’s life. Life and happiness shouldn’t end just because a dream is left unfulfilled. Just because hopes are dashed doesn’t mean new hopes can’t thrive.

Second place. Not being chosen. It’s just that. A closed door. Time to look for the place that’s right. That’s better. That’s the perfect fit. Find the next thing and move on. After all, whatever happens is God ordained. What is better than that?

Bravery Counts

The neighbor described her as a tough looking Lab. She is half Mastiff and half Lab. So the toughness is evident in her stance. In her hulking chest. Her bark is pretty tough, too. Animals cower at it. People back off at the sound. Her bite? Well, she’s never bitten.

She’s a protector of her caregivers. The one who feeds her is always guarded. She would probably offer her life as a substitute if needed. Let’s hope it never comes to that.

She loves her people with all she’s got. When one of us is not at home, she shuts down. She will lie on the bed as if she’s lost her best friend. As if she has no energy to move another muscle. But as soon as he comes home, she has boundless energy that is unmatched. She moves through the house with a smile on her face. Her pack is together. As it should be. All is well.

But then it happens. He sneezes. And that sneeze knocks the socks right off of her. You would think that that sneeze could blow a house down. As soon as she hears it, she runs for the one who feeds her. She needs protection. She is shaking like a leaf in the worst storm of the season. She can’t quite calm down until she has been comforted and consoled. This hulk of a dog cowers at the sound of her master’s sneeze. All efforts to act tough and protective are thrown out the window with a single sneeze.


Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10


As a Christian, why do I cower when my Master makes an unfamiliar move near me? When he makes his presence known? When he asks me to move out of my comfort zone? Why do I run for cover hoping he won’t find me? When he isn’t asking the impossible of me. He’s only stretching my faith and my trust. Why don’t I see that?

Why don’t I trust that he is with me even when the frightening sneezes of life throw me off guard. When those life sneezes send me cowering to my favorite hiding place. Why don’t I believe that he is in control, even when it seems all hope is lost. When life seems hopeless, the hope of life has my back. He carries me through those storms of life when I have no fight left.

He’s never failed me. He’s never forgotten me. He’s by my side. I have to remind myself that whatever happens in my life is God’s will. Otherwise, it wouldn’t happen. So it may be a life lesson. It may be a reward. It may be a reprimand. Regardless, it is the right thing for me at that moment. I have to place my trust in Him in all situations. Even though I can’t see the road ahead.