The football swished through the air and he leapt up as high as he could to meet it. As he grabbed it and tucked it close, a body flew at him, pinning him to the ground. Immediately I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Tommy, you’re done! You’re out of the game! Go sit down.”
I work in a daycare that has an after school program. One of the things the boys love to do is get a big group together to play football. The rule is that they play touch football and aren’t allowed to tackle each other at all. The other day (as recounted above), Tommy decided to pin another kid right in front of my eyes. He definitely knows better, so I made him sit on the sidelines while his friends played without him. Of course he was huffing and puffing, sitting there quite impatiently, while asking repeatedly, “Can I get up now? Can I get back in the game now?” He absolutely could not stand being out of the game.
I have never played sports or really enjoyed watching them. It’s always been more of a social thing for me, good food and fellowship and me asking someone what is happening. One time I was at a baseball game and asked my friend when the game started, she laughed hysterically and informed me it had begun 30 minutes ago. However, despite my lack of sport knowledge, I’ve learned a few terms. For example, the term “benched” — when a player is taken out of the game, when a player is in reserve to play, or when a player is being punished for his/her actions.
Watching Tommy sit there on the bench, hearing his constant complaints about not playing, made me think about myself. I have felt the same way recently, like I am watching this game play before my eyes but it’s not my time to be a part of it. I found myself complaining to God the other day, “I’m tired of this rest season, I’m tired of feeling benched.”
Have you ever felt benched by God?
You know, those times where something is taken from you, or an opportunity passes you by, or nothing is really happening and you feel stagnant, or you keep trying but failing over and over. Or God has revealed something to you but you see no fruit of that promise. Or maybe another reason entirely. You feel ready to make the play but it’s not your time. You feel tired of sitting in the same spot but you know that God hasn’t given you the “go.”
The reality is, being benched isn’t fun. There could be a number of reasons as to why you aren’t in the game — from sin needing to be addressed in your life, to a season of growth for you, to it’s just God’s timing.
I don’t know what it looks like for you but I want you to know that you’re in great company.
God told Joseph that people would bow to him one day. but Joseph didn’t even get to see a glimmer of that until years and years later after his season of captivity. God told David that he would be king but David spent many years fleeing for his life, trying to be patient for the promise. Even Jesus had years of waiting in the sidelines until it was His time to reveal who He was to the world. There are countless other stories in the Bible of men and women who dealt with the same “benched” time. We have their examples so we can learn what to do (and not to do) during the time we’re waiting to get back up.
There is a reason for the wait. We need bench seasons. If we didn’t have them, we would never be ready for the game. We need time to observe and watch what’s happening on the field. We need to rest and prepare for a long stretch ahead of us. We need to take a second and realize some areas that we messed up in and give them to God. We need to press into Jesus and learn all we can while we sit. Mostly, we need to learn the value of resting in Him and appreciating what He has for us in the sideline season.
I just want to encourage you to not wish this season away. There is nothing wrong with asking God, “Can I get up now? Can I get back in the game now?” but you have to be okay if He says no.
There is a purpose for this season. There always is even when it is so hard to see it. God doesn’t make mistakes. Remember that you are never forgotten. El Roi sees you. Humble yourself before the Lord, seek Him all the more, and use this time to prepare yourself for the upcoming game.
Your time to get off the bench is coming, my friend.