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 lifeā€”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?