Benched

There was a time in my life where I tried to be something I just wasn't made to be: a volleyball player. Judging by my tall stature, you would think that I was made to be an athlete, but when it comes to aggression and hand-eye coordination, I completely lack those genes. My sister was the star athlete at her school and later went on to play college volleyball. Since I was her younger sister, I felt that I needed to follow in her footsteps and attempt volleyball greatness.

There was only one problem, I spent most of my volleyball “career” on the bench. You really don’t need to feel sorry for me though, the bench is exactly where I wanted to be. I hated being on the court because I dreaded the volleyball hurling towards me. There was a time when I miscalculated the height of the ball and attempted to duck at the last minute, only to find the ball hitting me square in the face. Needless to say, I felt safe on the bench and out of danger’s path, but still, there was something deep within me that felt like I was missing out on not being on the court. I ended up giving up my volleyball ambitions, but have still spent other times in my life on the bench.

We’ve all had seasons where we’ve been benched (as my friend, Jess Connolly once put it). Whether it be due to circumstances outside of your control, or by your own choice, you know how it feels to be set aside watching everyone else in the game. Being on the bench can feel unwelcoming and lonely, embarrassing and disappointing. But there is actually great purpose for the bench. The bench is a place of rest and refreshment, a place to see things more clearly, a place to regroup and redefine the mission, and a place to cheer others on and be encouraged.

This past season I have felt “benched”. The Lord graciously showed me my limits and led me back to the bench to take a seat with Him. It wasn’t until I begrudgingly sat down that He began to show me the beauty of sitting on the bench in life. It doesn’t mean that we have been set aside for good, or that God doesn’t see fit to use us in the kingdom. Rather, it means that God sees the benefit of rest, renewal, and revival. I’ve lived a lot of my life believing the lie that I can “do it all”, only to consistently fall short of this ambition.

When the Lord sat me on the bench this past fall, He showed me the joy and freedom that comes in realizing I can’t do it all. He never called me to do it all! This is a self-imposed limitation and expectation I had placed on myself. But what I can do is this, come to Him each day humbled and hungry for more of Him, placing my dreams and goals at His feet and trading them for a cross. Sitting on the bench taught me that I am limited and finite, or as James puts it, a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). However, He is eternal, unending, and limitless. It is His sheer grace and blessing to reveal to us that we are limited and He has no limits. Because when He shows us this truth, we no longer strive to live up to an impossible standard, but rather we rest and rejoice in His grace.

Being “benched” this past season might possibly be one of God’s greatest gifts in my life. To have a greater understanding of my limitations has taught me to embrace the kingdom of God more than the earthly kingdom we temporarily reside in. After all, this story isn’t ultimately about me or you or the things that we do in life, it is about Christ and all He has done, is doing, and will do.

Take the bench when He offers it with great joy, dear friends. It is His grace to show you your limitations, because in them you will be able to see more fully that He has none. And as Paul learned to rejoice in His weaknesses because in them He knew the grace of God more completely, may we rejoice in our limitations and see with heaven-set eyes that only He can do it all. The bench just might be the place you need to see this from.

sitting on the sidelines with you and enjoying the view,

Gretchen