I open the refrigerator in search of milk, but the sticker on the outside of the door catches my eye. It reads: “Star Student Award.” It’s the size of a small nametag – white paper creased and worn and dirtied and so very well loved.
She wore it for two days. The first day, she bounced off the school bus in the blazing heat of a mid-May afternoon with a fleece jacket over her shirt. She said she wanted to surprise me. She ripped the coat wide open to unveil the prize she’d been longing for all year: the principal’s star student award. She was spotted helping a friend, and someone noticed. It feels so good when someone notices.
I convinced her not to slap it onto her pajamas that night, but she wore it to school the next day, gently pulling it from her turquoise T-shirt and placing it on her purple dress. She’d been chosen, and she just couldn’t wait to show the world.
After the second day on display, the sticker found its final resting place on an index card, and we taped it to the fridge for good measure. A treasure. A reminder to be kind.
Staring at it in the early glow of morning’s rising light, I find myself thinking of what it means to be chosen. I think of a dozen times when I so desperately longed to be chosen . . . but wasn’t. There was that day on the playground in second grade with all the boys. I wanted to join their football game. When the members of teams were drawn – one by one – I wasn’t last, but I was near the end. I made sure to run faster and play harder than the rest of the boys, and from that day on, I was never near the end again. The adult friends and family who have walked with me since childhood can attest to this.
I remember that boy in eighth grade. I desperately wanted him to dance with me, but he never walked across the wide span of gymnasium. He asked the girl with the blonde hair and poufy bangs instead. Two feet apart, they swayed to Boyz II Men for the full three minutes that could have been mine.
I turn from the sticker on the fridge and make my way to the couch to open the Word that will speak life into my day. I read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:3-4).
Chosen. I chew on the words. I am chosen by the One who created the stars and the clouds and the mountains and the seas. Before the foundation of all these things, he chose me. I wasn’t always chosen for the team, chosen for the dance, or chosen for the promotion, but I am chosen by the Lord over all the earth to be his. More than this, I am chosen to be blameless.
Me, with all my failures, all my besetting sins, my quick temper with the kids, my stained past, and my addictive personality – chosen to be blameless. Only the cross could have accomplished this. Only the cross, with the shedding of innocent blood where the Lamb of God was slain for my failures. Only the cross makes me blameless.
I swallow down the truth, and Bekah comes down the stairs with her hair matted from the pillow. I hear her brother talking on the monitor – playing with the toys in his bed and singing with the little pink computer that sings the alphabet song.
She walks to the fridge and runs her little fingers – nails painted cobalt blue – across the sticker that reminds her she was chosen. I run my fingers across the pages that remind me of the same thing.
When she folds onto my lap, we talk about the sticker on the fridge, and I read words of life to her, praying they’ll sink straight into her thrumming heart. She smiles wide, truth sinking deeper.