Among a small group of women, we were discussing the passage of scripture where the apostles of the New Testament gather to replace the former apostle Judas. Two names are put forward. After prayer and deliberation, they cast their lots and one was chosen. And one was not.
We talked about this idea, the idea of being chosen for one path or another. Imagine the human emotion involved: anticipation, excitement, passion. There was probably humility, given the spiritual maturity needed to fulfill such a position, but I don't think we can discount that both men wanted to work in such a profound way.
One was chosen, one was not. For that path. It can be hard to realize that we are all chosen for our specific paths. Sometimes we look longingly down another road, yearning to follow a dream not matched to our life. Maybe we know deep inside we are not meant to, maybe life circumstances prevent it. Either way, it can feel like a dream that slipped through our fingers.
I think about Matthias, chosen as an apostle of Jesus. One moment inspired by the impact of such a role, the next overwhelmed by what it actually means to step into it. I think about Barsabus, walking down a path toward a calling, only to have the gate shut. One moment tingling with anticipation and the next left wondering what now? what next?
That's what is so amazing about our lives: the "next." It is not just the roads we walk that shape our lives, but also the roads we don't take. I heard of a man in the next town, yearning to be a father. His beautiful daughter was born with multiple severe disabilities. No facilities existed to help his daughter with the many physical needs she had. He turned a small cottage on his farm into a small hospital for her, fitted with the equipment necessary. He learned and trained and cared for her until her frail body gave out at three years old. Standing in the grand farmhouse, he no longer saw his path as a farmer and a father, but as a life-giver to others facing similar struggles. That grand farmhouse was turned into home for 16 children with multiple severe disabilities whose needs outweigh their parents' ability to provide. Nurses are on staff, sometimes one-on-one. Medicine, equipment, everything these children need. That first father now sees his path as an advocate and fundraiser for these few families whose lives look nothing like what they expected at the first twinge of their baby's conception.
We never know what might be next for us. We never know what we are chosen for.