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Whenever you see an athlete on the bench, it could be for several reasons. They might be injured, or resting, or not up to par thus their starting position has been lost to another. Being on the bench, regardless of the situation that one finds themselves in, is not a fun place to be. It means that you’re not in the game, and you are missing out on the fun and the action. When you’re on the bench, you long to get back into the center of it all.
On the bench is where Moses found himself after he had escaped from Egypt as a wanted fugitive at the age of 40. You could say he had a midlife crisis, because now he is in the wilderness away from his people, his home, and the vision of what he thought his life would be. For the next 40 years of his life Moses would be on the bench, until age 80, when God would put him back into action, to set the people of Israel free. Maybe you’re in a season of life where you are not doing the things you thought you would be doing. Or you have been hurt by others, and their direct actions have put you on the bench. Now you find yourself waiting for something to happen, simply watching life pass you by. If that’s you, then Moses’ life can offer hope for you during this trying season.
You see, your time on the bench is directly related to your ability to gain the right perspective.
When Moses first arrived in the wilderness, he was a broken man with limited hopes of aiding his captive Israelite brethren. He had lived a privileged but somewhat unsatisfied life, as he watched his own people suffer at the hand of the royal court that adopted him. Finally, after getting the courage to act, he screwed up majorly, and wound up on the wrong side of the law. Disowned, disinherited and dejected he fled to the wilderness. Surely, he would have doubted God’s call on his life and questioned his purpose. He would have wondered why God had him on the bench. Moses, though stuck in this static season of his life, did not ultimately give up on his dream of being a rescuer of his people. During this season, he got connected to a wonderful family, married their daughter and was mentored by a godly father-in-law. Though he was far away in every respect from his imagined life, this time on the bench was therapeutic and preparatory for God’s next steps for his life.
For Moses, spending time on the bench allowed him to reflect and gain perspective. Though it would have been a long 40 years of waiting, he was somehow able to keep the dream alive until God called him back into action. Moses could have stayed upset and jaded, but he chose to move on with his life, which directly affected his attitude.
Are you on the bench but still bitter, resentful and wounded? If you are, it will be hard for you to recover and get back in the game. Having the wrong perspective will affect your decision making and negatively influence those around you. Things may be okay now, but there may be an emotional or relational disaster waiting to happen.
A few years ago, I remember mentoring a young man who was privileged enough to get a full scholarship to play basketball at one of North America’s finest universities. As his time at school progressed, he became bitter. He had not seen eye to eye with his coach and now he found himself on the bench. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t recover because of the hurt experienced with this coach, and his attitude became permanently soured. The coach, not liking his attitude chose not to play him for most of his university career. It was quite tragic. This young man, having prepared all his life for this moment to play his sport at the highest level, was perpetually benched simply because he retained the wrong perspective.
Moses teaches us that while you are on the bench it’s important to appreciate the relationships that God has put around you. You must stay emotionally vulnerable, not shutting yourselves off from those around you including maybe those who hold the keys to your getting off the bench. Staying relationally and emotionally connected helps to fortify you while you are on the bench. Finally, Moses teaches us to ultimately trust in God’s leading. Even though we are not satisfied with this season of waiting, God has a purpose for us being on the bench. Whether it is to rest, rebuild or reform, he will put us back into the game at his appointed time.
– Pastor Olu Jegede