Mrs. Gwendolyn Jones’ third grade class was divided in half. There was a good half and a bad half. This was not a generalization of the social climate in the classroom. There was quite literally a ‘good side’ and a ‘bad side’.
You had to earn the opportunity to move your desk to the good side. You had to be quiet, do your work, clean up and be attentive. I was good at three of those four things. I was not good at being quiet. As a result, my desk stayed on the bad side of the room practically all year.
If you were lucky enough to get promoted to the good side, you actually picked up your desk and chair and proudly moved them across the room. However, if you acted up and got demoted to the bad side, you had to begrudgingly drag your desk (which immediately seemed five times heavier than before), back to the bad side.
Week after week, month after month, I sat on the bad side. I watched my friends move their desks around. I envied. I coveted.
But, then there was one day, one glorious day, I earned the right to move to the good side. When I got called up to the big leagues, I crammed all my books and papers in my desk (the really old-school kind with the flip-top) and scooted/strutted across to the good side. Bye-bye, dark side.
My time (albeit short-lived) on the good side was amazing. What made it extraordinary is that Mrs. Jones picked me to be one of two captains for a class kickball game.
I loved kickball. It was a way of life. I can still remember how all my classmates kicked. I know that Joe would kick it straight over first base. Jesse would ground it by third. Robert would slam into the outfield over second. It’s what got me through the day. Recesses was the second best time of the day. First pitch in my backyard after school was the best. Except, sometimes we didn’t have enough people to play. There was nothing more devastating to a kickball aficionado than being ill-equipped to field a full team. So, occasionally we would resort to two-on-two or even in the rarest of events, one-on-one kickball. That’s when we relied heavily on the ghostman.
If you’re rusty on your backyard kickball terminology, having a “ghostman on third” meant that as a runner, you have advanced the bases as far as you can get on your own. You made it all the way to third base and got stranded, leaving no one left to physically “bat” for your team. So, we would make a declaration that there was a “ghostman” on third base (or whatever base you advanced to.) The only way for a ghostman to move to the next base was for you (the runner) to advance to the place where the ghostman was located, pushing the ghostman forward.
The purpose of the ghostman was to hold your spot while you did something else. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have the ghostman with you all the time? The boss needs a report? Ghostman on Powerpoint! Kids need a bath? Ghostman in the tub! License expiring? Ghostman to the DMV! Line too long at the grocery store? Ghostman on lane seven!
The ghostman allowed you to still put points on the board even if you couldn’t get all the way home on your own. The ghostman in kickball was like the Holy Spirit of playground sports.
I’ve been struggling a bit recently. A few weeks ago, we did a spiritual gift survey in our Sunday school class. I was not surprised at all with the top three categories, in fact, I quite expected the results. But, the area that I scored the lowest in was discernment. Huh? Am I that bad at making a decision? Am I that weak in understanding God’s will in my life? Am I that oblivious to the Spirit’s guidance and influence over me? What the heck?
I know, I know. It’s just a book. Books can be wrong. But, the top of the spectrum is what I expected. My top spiritual gifts are evangelism, leadership and administration. Quite the conflict with discernment, wouldn’t you say? Who wants spiritual guidance from someone who lacks confidence when assessing God’s will? Who wants a leader who doesn’t judge well?
The book says that people with the gift of discernment know with confidence if individuals, teachings or motives are from God. So, if I’m not able to interpret things clearly, I must be inserting myself where I don’t need to be. I’m putting my needs first. I’m not relying fully on God. It’s frustrating because I’m trying to be obedient. I’m trying to follow. I think I’m going about my life the way God wants me to.
It’s a hard thing to deal with. It’s difficult to be the head of your household and lead your family spiritually when you constantly are second guessing decisions. It’s not easy being an executive at work and having to make decisions that effect hundreds of sales people and their clients. Some times you just have to turn off the noise in order to hear things.
I had a refreshing drive home from work. Typically, I have music playing all the time. But, today I drove home in silence with the windows down so I could just listen. I wanted to hear the cars. I wanted to hear the breeze. I wanted to hear the music in the car next to me. I wanted to hear the clickclickclick of my turn indicator.
I think I need a ghostman to take my place so I can turn off all the rest of the noise in my head and just listen. Listen to the world. Listen to God. Listen to my heart. Just listen. Maybe once I quiet down like Mrs. Jones wanted, then I can see what it’s like on the other side of the room.