I played sports in high school, but I can’t particularly boast of great athletic feats from those days. I was at my strongest in the swimming pool — sprinting 50 and 100 metre freestyle, leading off or anchoring relays, and being urged by my coach to swim more butterfly than I cared to do. (It’s hard!!) But after four years on the team I was one of the fastest sprinters on the squad.


{Look at Hero Hubs doing butterfly! He was a really good swimmer.}

On the tennis court it was a different story. By my senior year, I barely squeaked into the top six. Where my brother and sister excelled with a racquet, I’m afraid even after four seasons I hadn’t the skill to move much past average.

I learned some completely different lessons when I took to playing soccer during my second year of high school. Where tennis and swimming and primarily individual sports, a soccer match is won or lost by a team — working together, or not. And one might not always get to contribute so much.

Up until my third and final year on the soccer team, I spent most of the games on the sidelines, keeping the bench good and warm on chilly spring evenings in North Carolina. Being more of a sprinter by nature, pushing myself for thirty minutes at a time on the field didn’t come naturally to me. I struggled to pace myself, always afraid to go harder. There were very few times when at the end of the game I felt like I’d truly “left it all out on the field.” And that wasn’t just because I wasn’t on the field much.


In one redeeming moment, during my last season, the coach put me on the field — perhaps feeling sorry for me, perhaps because the competition wasn’t particularly fierce, perhaps because he believed I had something to give. Even though I’d pulled my groin earlier in the season and had a bit of a funny run, my heart was hungry to excel and I finally wanted to push myself. As the game was coming to a close, one of the midfielders fed me a perfect pass and with all my heart and all my might, after three years of playing forward, I delivered a perfect kick and scored my first goal. My success was immediately followed by an almost Michael-Jackson-like move, where I reached toward my injury and cried out in pain — an incredibly unique celebratory move which some of my younger teammates continued to use when scoring goals for the next couple of years. Whoo-hoooo …. OUCH!

That perfect goal was the highlight of my soccer career, and for the briefest moment in time, I didn’t feel second string.

I’ve pondered the significance of benchwarming in the seasons since (though I can only say a soccer ball is at my feet these days when I’m playing with the Bear) and an encouraging thought has met me as time has passed:

God doesn’t have a second string.

There are areas in our lives where I think, especially when it comes to spiritual matters, a lot of us feel second string. We feel like we don’t have the gifts, the talents, or the abilities that God dished out to a lot of first string Christians. I can’t pray like her. I can’t preach like him. My singing voice should not be anywhere near a microphone. Scripture just doesn’t come to mind for me. When people need encouragement, I just feel like I never know what to say. {Pause here to insert your own inner voice’s mumblings.}

Some of us might even begin to think that for one reason or another, we aren’t good enough to receive spiritual gifts from God. I could never pray for someone to be healed and see it happen right then and there. God does sometimes give people “words of wisdom” to speak to others that they couldn’t have known unless it came from Him — but I am just not one of those people that He does that kind of stuff with.

Although Paul instructed us to “earnestly desire spiritual gifts” sometimes we aren’t really desirous of them, because we don’t think we are “spiritually good enough” to receive them.

But this is some Good News that I think a lot of us need to hear and take to heart (so I’m saying it again):

God doesn’t have a second string.

You — and I do mean, you, yes you — are an integral part of His story. Yes, you! He has gifts for you to bless other believers with. He has gifts for you to bless the world with. You might not be able to sing like a Disney princess or preach it like Billy Graham, but you might be in the right place at the right time to bless someone with a simple word of encouragement, with a listening ear or even with food you’ve grown in your garden. The prayers you pray behind closed doors could change nations. These are all worthy gifts. Someone had to be the person who shared Christ with Billy Graham — they planted a seed that has reaped ten thousandfold.

Whether you feel like it or not, you are a key player on God’s playing field. Sometimes you’re going to score the game winning goal. (Okay, in that instance we might’ve won by like six goals.) Sometimes you’re going to deliver the perfect assist to make that game-winning goal happen. Sometimes you’re going to be at the other end of the field, tending an unthreatened post with a hope and a prayer — but still playing a key role in winning the game.

I say it again because we all need to hear it again: God loves you. And you, yes, you, are an integral part of His story. Whether you believe it or not. {Even if you don’t believe in Him, He still has a plan He is hoping for you to walk out.}

If you spend too much time thinking about why you ought to be on the bench, you aren’t going to be ready when He needs you out on the field. So study hard. Read hard. Pray hard. Believe hard. Keep your eyes on Jesus and follow His lead. God created you for a purpose — and you will be more fulfilled than ever before, when you are ready and waiting, and you seize the opportunities life gives you to put a perfect kick through the posts.