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Eschol

We hope to add little stories here from time to time. Each, like the scripture page entries in Journey, will be placed under Eschol.

JUSTUS

Acts 1:24 – And they prayed, and said “Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen…”

They drew lots for the spot vacated by Judas; and Joseph Barsabbas Justus lost. He got the proverbial short end of the stick. Ordained by God, in the eyes of humankind, Joseph Barsabbas Justus was not to be selected as one of the “Twelve”. As far as we can determine, his entire existence was to lose to Matthias. We do not hear from or about him ever again. He was the loser. Most people do not even remember reading about him. Of course not, he was the loser! We do not acknowledge the existence of losers. Second place holds no prize in our society; it is simply the first loser. Our society is designed for winners only, survival of the fittest. The loser in our society must simply disappear.

Apparently, it was not much different in the first century because that is exactly what happened to Justus, he simply disappeared. How many people have wondered if they just might be a type of Joseph B. Justus of this modern era? Here to lose, to get the short end of the stick–just a day late and a dollar short of catching the brass ring. To be forgotten by all the winners; to be in the running just to be passed by at the wire. For the entirety of your life you are the loser.

I cannot help but wonder if God considers Justus a loser. I wonder if God looked at Joseph’s contribution to the cause as a losing attempt. Actually, it is impossible for me to find a single example in all of creation that could be labeled as a “failed” creation. I do not believe that God willingly creates failed creations. Even so, one cannot but wonder how many Joseph Barsabbas Justus’ there are or have been in the world. Am I one? Are you? If so, is it really a bad thing? Without Joseph Barsabbas Justus there are no Matthias’. Without the competitor there are no winners. It may not mean a great deal to the competitor, but it is quite important to the winners.

It is not very difficult to be motivated if you are the winner, but it is extremely difficult to stay motivated if you are the competitor. The competitor must believe in herself/himself to a far greater degree, as well as maintain a persevering philosophy that takes into consideration the long haul, the big picture, the last laugh, and the final bell. In 2 Timothy 4:10 Saint Paul recites the perfect competitor’s creed when he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Notice that there is nothing there that speaks or even hints at winning–just finishing. When one considers what the competitor goes through just to continue to compete, it is truly remarkable. No, God did not make any losers, just as many competitors as is needed.

It is easier to do something that you are good at, that you are appreciated for, that you enjoy doing. But when you consider what it takes to “lose” every day, day in and day out–the short end of the stick–you can see that it takes far more perseverance, dedication, commitment and character; it takes a very special person to carry on in the face of adversity and constant defeat. That is why the Messiah said, “blessed be those who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). He talked of the hungry being fed, the poor in spirit owning the Kingdom of Heaven; God knows what it takes to be a Joseph Barsabbas Justus. Not everyone can handle that type of existence. Only those who God created with an unbreakable spirit and an incredible belief system: optimistic, open minded, positive, and willing, could cope as Joseph B. Justus.

Are you one? I know I am.

All my life I have been at the short end of the stick, a day late and a dollar short. All my life has been spent running a race that led me away from God. Always thinking that if I could just hang in there for a little while longer, try a little harder, I just knew I could grab the brass ring if I went around just one more time. It never occurred to me that all the while I was chasing that brass ring I was getting farther and farther from the true Ring of Life–God. It did not don on me that without God in our lives Joseph and I were just “losers”.

However, with God Joseph and I are more than conquerors! With God we are accepted, we are counted, we are loved, and we belong! Those of us who believe in God do so because we have a void inside of us that we cannot fill with anything on earth (I know, I tried!). The more I tried to fill the void with earthly goods, accomplishments, positions, and titles, the farther away from God I got and the void remianed. In time it actually became bigger to a point that it was like a black hole sucking my life into darkness. Before long that black hole sucked up everything that was ever important in my life. My whole life had been sucked right down that black hole into a bottonless pit.

I was alone, penniless and very ill. I had made mistake before and had been at or near the bottom, but I had always been able to pick myself up and get back on track again. Not this time. This time was very different. This time there was nothing left to recover, not even the physical energy to get back on my feet. This time I had really fallen hard, and if that was not bad enough, now I had baggage to contend with. Baggage that was attached to the very tendons of my soul; this baggage came from all the wars I had never been destined to fight, but did anyway. Scars so deep they hampered my every move, every breath. These scars were not like my visual scars I had collected over the years of my rebellion, these were deep. They were painful and here to stay–short of a miracle.

There is something absolutely magical about belief. I am sure that belief is one of the things that separates us from all other creatures; that ability to believe in whatever it takes to make the difference. I know that it was belief in something outside of me that kick started something inside of me that science will never understand. All I know is that in a moment of time I went from hopeless to hopeful, from impossible to possible, from cashing in on my life insurance to cashing in on God. Without ever making a conscious effort to determine my own fate; in an instant I knew that there was an answer to my condition/plight. I was in such a depressed state of mind that I could see no way out of my situation. To me there was only one way out of my mess–a car ride over a very high cliff. Yet, there it was as big as life itself as if it had been there the entire time just waiting for me to reach out and grab it, my saving grace–another choice.

In my state of mind that day I was not looking for another choice; a second choice was as if God had come down to earth that day with me in my hour of despair just to show me that I was not alone! In an instant I felt an overwhelming feeling of love come upon me to the extent that I had never experienced before. Simply by excepting that overwhelming feeling of love as real and coming from God has allowed me to live in a way that I would not have thought possible.

That day I had two choices, one was to give up, and the other was to give in. That was almost two decades ago and not a day goes by that I do not thank God for this new life. Today my entire existence is a relationship with the Creator of the universe, wow! Do not misunderstand my previous predicament I have lived a life that many would consider well above average, but Multible Sclerosis stopped me in my tracks. I still suffer–at times greatly– from MS, but I would not change one thing in my life today.

Science will no doubt descibe this event as simple psychological survival nothing mystical about it; just the typical reaction of a human being in a critical life or death situation. But science has no idea of what was going on inside my head that day; how I fely, my state of mind, my complete desire to discontinue the pain and misery that had become my life. For me at that time living handicapped was not living and the only way I could have continued life from that day on was through Divine Intervention.

For every Matthias there has to be a Joseph B Justus, that is the balance of complexity. Neither of them amount to much without God; when it is all said and done, God makes the difference that so many of us are looking for. So Justus did not become a member of the twelve Apostles, But he also did not suffer with them either. One thing for sure to me, God loved Justus whether or not he was numbered with the Twelve. In the end the love of God is all that really matters.

all scrpture is from New American Standard

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