We are in a season of the church year called Lent, six weeks in which we walk with God and each other to the cross. Our pastor, Pastor Todd, has been doing Wednesday night devotionals about some people in God’s amazing story who might be considered a bit player: a man carrying water, Pilot’s wife.
What is a bit player?
Bit players have a very small part in a movie, play, or theater production. Some definitions go on to add “a person with minor, unimportant, unimpressive role, more than a walk-on, less than a supporting actor.”
Have you ever felt like a bit player in God’s great story? That person with a minor, unimportant, unimpressive role? And not just minor, unimportant, unimpressive, but someone whose scenes should be cut entirely and left on the editing room floor?
Friends, God did not put the stories of Moses and Abraham in bolded Time New Roman font and leave you and me as italicized footnotes. We are not a bit player. Our roles are in bold print too. Our bios—yes, all of them—are included in God’s playbill.
When God puts on a show, we are all included. We are not a bit player. We all have major, important, impressive roles. We’re all center stage. Not only did the prophets get their names up in lights, but you and I did too. Not only did the disciples get backstage passes, but you and I did too. We’re all part of God’s grand production, because we’re all part of a very huge story.
How am I NOT a bit player?
“Oh, Deanna, that sounds lovely, especially this week as we celebrate International Women’s Day, but I’m no great leader.”
Actually, you are. You’ve led your family and continue to lead those around you.
“But I haven’t accomplished great things.”
Actually, you have. You got those dear, darling, challenging children of yours into adulthood. Yes, the ones who outgrew naps before you did.
That business of yours? You’re not just selling something; you’re supporting your community.
That classroom of yours? You’re not just teaching kids; you’re educating the next generation.
We’re not just a little older and a little grayer, we’re survivors of stumbles and missteps, moments of uncertainty and times of pain. Goodness, we made it through the pandemic!
What pastor has shows us every week is that there is not a bit player in God’s great story. There are no minor, unimportant, unimpressive roles. It’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to overlook that when it comes to our own stories.
I didn’t begin to appreciate God’s place in my story or my place in God’s story until I started to write. I needed to sort through a lot of memories. I needed a lot of reflection. There were incidents that have loomed large for decades that were really smaller moments. There were smaller moments that connected to bigger, more important lessons in life. All connected to God’s great story of love and faithfulness, God’s loving kindness that became our saving grace.
Stories matter. We are people who love a good story. In his book The Power of Story, Jim Loehr says, “Telling ourselves stories helps us navigate our way through life, because they provide structure and direction. Stories impose meaning on the chaos. They organize and give context to our sensory experiences which otherwise might seem like no more than a fairly colorless sequence of facts. Facts are meaningless unless you create story around them.” To this Pastor Darryl Dash adds in a blog post titled, Finding Our Place in God’s Story: “The quickest way to change someone is to change the story that they’re telling themselves. That is why we need God’s story.”
You and I are chosen parts of God’s story. We’re not just a bit player in that story. Our roles are not minor, unimportant, and unimpressive, because God’s story is not minor, unimportant, and unimpressive—because God doesn’t do minor, unimportant, and unimpressive, never has, never will.
In the New Testament Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 16, Jesus said, “You did not choose me. I chose you and appointed you, so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” That’s a casting call at it’s finest! That’s a casting call for starring roles. Yes, there are going to be those days, the ones we’d like to edit out and leave on the cutting room floor. But remember, we’re part of the greatest story ever told.
We’ve got to change the story we’re telling ourselves.
It’s easy to define ourselves by the mistakes we’ve made, the moments we’ve come up short, the but’s in our life. It’s also easy to use the adjective just to describe ourselves. I’m just a volunteer… I’m just working part-time… I’m just… (you fill in the blank). But we’re not “just” anything. We’re God’s chosen, not a bit player in His story.
During Lent Christians may give up something. Lent can be a time of fasting, prayers, special preparations for Easter. Your mission, your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Give up the buts and the justs that explain away who you are in God’s story, that take away from the fruit that you bear. We were chosen. We were appointed to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Yes, we were chosen and appointed.
Blessing this day! May your week bear much fruit, fruit that will last. Why? Because you are not a bit player!