Wisdom again shows its face when we consider the power of place in our lives.
James and John, the Sons of Thunder, were rather bold in their request to Jesus. Lord, they said, promise us that we can sit at your right and at your left. Give us the places of honor. Make us bigger than we are.
I think it's a request most of us can relate to, particularly those of us who have had a struggle with place in our lives. The more we long for some kind of way to be, some kind of bigger thing to be, the more we can identify with this request. I'll admit that from my insecurities, I used to read this verse and hold my breath, secretly hoping that one of those places - His right or His left - was meant for me. That of course James and John could not have those; one of them was mine. For all I care, they can fight over the other. Then I'd spend my days wondering whether I'd be more comfortable at His right or His left. You know, which position of honor I'd rather have.
It's silly, but...is it? Maybe you haven't been so bold in your reading of Scripture, but how about in the story of your life? Maybe you've had your eyes on the corner office, wanting God to place you where everyone would see you leading the way. Maybe you've set your sights on your family, wanting to be that family that everyone wishes they had. Wanting to be that mom or that dad or that harmonious unit that gets family right. Maybe you've eyed a new car that would turn heads on the highway and let people know right away that you...you're somebody. Maybe you've jockeyed your way up in the church so that everyone who enters your doors knows your name. Whatever it is, we're pretty good at fixing our eyes on places of honor and praying God to get us there.
What's interesting is that when we can't stop looking at where we want to be, we fail to recognize where we are. James and John were fishermen. Plain, old, smelly fishermen. They spent their days tossing nets and throwing cod. They probably had the same arrogance on the sea that they had beside it. They probably aspired to be not just fishermen, but renowned fishermen. Guys with names, not just nets. The guys you'd go to for all your fish needs. Then Jesus calls them out of this life and into something new, and they set their eyes even higher - on being men over all the heavens, men honored above all others not just in the industry but in eternity. Yes, they're gonna be the big guys. They just know it.
But for all their aspirations, they're missing the inspiration that's just arm's reach away. They're missing the fact that maybe they aren't #1 and #2, but they are two of twelve. They are an intimate part of the very big thing God is doing among the people of the world. Only a select few can travel with the Teacher, and they are among the select few! They have the unique opportunity to see Jesus in His fullness. To experience His miracles first-hand. All of them. To get to know His heart. To share quiet moments and elaborate meals with Him. They know how it feels to touch His hands, hands that are going to go on to redeem the world. For thousands of years to come, people are going to be reading their words, their accounts of what it was like to be with this God-Man in the flesh, the lessons they learned from listening to Him speak in His own voice. And they're worried about where they're going to sit tomorrow?
They're missing it today!
The same is true for you and I. We've got our eyes so fixed on the places of honor that we fail to see the honor given us in this place. We get to walk with Jesus. We get to hear His voice. We get to walk in His footsteps and get the same dust all over our feet. We get to witness His miracles first-hand. All of them. We get to know His heart. We get to share quiet moments and elaborate meals with Him. We can know what it's like to touch His hands, not the calloused hands of a carpenter's son but the wounded hands that have redeemed the world. Generations to come are going to read our words about Him, our accounts of what it's like to live with God so present among us. They're going to read our stories and hopefully understand what faith means in a time and place like this. They're going to know how God speaks by discovering Him through us. And we're worried about a place that doesn't have enough honor? There is no more honor than this - that we live and walk and love with Christ Himself, Immanuel, God with us.
We can't worry so much about being at His right or His left; our place is right here. Right where God has put us. For a time such as this.