Growing up, I played baseball all through little league and junior high. I always made the All-Star Team. Like any little league player, I dreamed of playing second base in the big leagues. But when I got to high school, it was a whole new level of talent. I came from a very large high school. There were 800 people in my graduating class. When I tried out for the baseball team, there were 150 other young men trying out for 20 positions on the team.
I’ll never forget the day the coach called us into the gym to tell us who made the team. He began to call out the names one by one. I didn’t hear my name, but I was sure I was going to be next, or next, or next… The more names he called out, the lower I sank. He finally said, “Alright, here’s the last name.” He called it out, and it wasn’t my name. I was so disappointed. He told me later, “Joel, I’d love to have you on the team. You’re just too small. You’re not big enough.” Back then I was very small. I grew six inches after high school.
Over the next few weeks and months, those words rang out in my mind again and again. “You heard what the coach said. You’re too small. There’s something wrong with you. You’re not good enough.” Have you noticed how the negative voices will always play the loudest? If you don’t take control of your thought life, then every hurt, every criticism, every derogatory comment will play again and again. I was tempted to be insecure, to feel inferior, and lose my confidence. But I had to keep reminding myself, “He may have said I’m too small, but I know God made me like I am on purpose. He may have said I’m not good enough, but God says I’m a masterpiece. They may have rejected me, but God says He accepts me.”
It says in 1 Peter 2:9, “You have been chosen by God Himself.” People may leave you out. People may overlook you. But always remember, the One who matters most chooses you. That means you weren’t randomly chosen. God, on purpose, looked at you and said, “I choose him. I choose her. They’re My son. They’re My daughter. That’s who I want on My team.”
People may tell you, “You’re just too small.” But God says, “You’re just the right size for Me.” People may say, “You’re not talented. We don’t need you. You don’t have anything to offer.” But God says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are talented. You are creative. You are anointed. You are smart. You are intelligent. You are amazing.”
Whenever we feel that sting of rejection, instead of getting down on ourselves and losing our sense of value, our attitude should be, “I may be disappointed. This may hurt. But I’m not going to sink down into self-pity and start thinking that there is something wrong with me. I know the One who matters most, the One who controls the universe, handpicked me. I may not have been chosen by the coach, the boss, or a friend, but I was chosen by the Most High God; and He says that His plans for me are for good and not evil, to give me a future and a hope.”
I know some of you have gone through more than your share of unfair situations. But here’s what I’ve learned. Even though life is not fair, God is fair. If you will not go around thinking there is something wrong with you, but instead start seeing yourself as handpicked by God — valuable, lovable, with something great to offer — then God said He will pay you back double for your former shame. That means He’ll make the rest of your life twice as good as it would have been if that had never even happened to you.
But you’ve got to dig your heels in. Don’t allow what somebody did or didn’t do steal your destiny and cause you to go through life feeling not good enough, not talented, not attractive. No, realize that you’re a child of the Most High God. Your value doesn’t come from people or accomplishments; it comes from your Creator. Put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. Live with confidence. God said He will take what was meant for your harm and use it for your advantage.
If you will keep this attitude of faith, God will always give you the last laugh. He’ll get you where you’re supposed to be. No, I didn’t get chosen for the baseball team that year. My dreams of playing second base didn’t work out. But do you know 30 years later, I did stand at second base at Yankee Stadium? I wasn’t playing baseball. God had something else for me to do. God opened the door for our ministry to conduct a Night of Hope event, and I was able to stand boldly on second base and tell thousands of people about God’s goodness and His good plan for their lives. It was a time I will never forget and was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Friends, people may reject you, but God accepts you. He’s already chosen you, and He’s the One that matters most. He has a way of working everything out for our good! And it’s always better than we could have ever imagined!