Most Likely To...

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Who would you have chosen out of your High School Graduation class to be the most likely to succeed? How about the least likely?

In my final year of High School, the guidance counselor arranged an interview with me—as he did with all the students. He asked what I was planning to do after graduation. When I told him, he bluntly informed me that I didn’t have the brains for higher education so I would be advised to forget my lofty ambitions.

I ignored his “advice,” and despite the dire predictions, did well enough to be the valedictorian of my class when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.

It wouldn't be the last time someone has told me “you can’t” and I went on to show that I could!

I say all this, but not because this is a “look-at-me-and-see-how-wonderful-I-am!” I’m not, but God certainly is! It’s because I was reminded as I read Genesis 48 this morning that God really does surprise us with who He chooses for specific roles.

The scene in Genesis 48 is Joseph’s appearance before his father, Israel, at the end of the patriarch’s life. Joseph was accompanied by his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. They had come for the traditional blessings that were part of the custom of the time. As tradition dictated the elder should have received the “greater” blessing from his grandfather. But a virtually blind Israel knowingly gave the more significant blessing to the younger son (48:14, 17-20).

But this is nothing new. Israel (a.k.a. Jacob) had gotten the blessing reserved for the firstborn (albeit by subterfuge). Israel’s son, Reuben, had lost out as the firstborn because he had disgraced himself with his father’s concubine. And now Ephraim takes precedence over Manasseh. Sometimes we understand why God orchestrated these particular choices as He directed the affairs of men. But sometimes we have no clue—why this one over that one?

Why me, over someone smarter, prettier, richer, more eloquent, more self-confident, or more connected to the movers and shakers of society?

I don’t know.

But I am reminded of something Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many of you were influential; not many of you were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’

Someone “wrote me off.” But God has never done that, and neither should we, be it with those who seem the most resistance to the saving grace of God, or those who seem the least likely to succeed at the Christian life, or in ministry.

In the end it is Jesus Christ who becomes, in the least of us, all that is needed to make us all that He wants us to be.

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