I am the first-born and only son of my father. When I was born, I was extremely wanted; I was so very “chosen” that it later became embarrassing. But of course, at that time, I really had no idea as to what it meant to be so very chosen . . . until my parents dropped me off at kindergarten, and I began to experience “un-chosen-ness.”
In Gym class, in 1968, we always picked teams, and I was almost always chosen next to last because I usually struck out. Sometimes the captains would even argue about me: “We don’t want Hiett.” “Well, we don’t want Hiett.”
Matt, or Duncan, were usually chosen last, and so I delighted in their un-chosen-ness. And I delighted in Benny’s failure, or George’s failure, on math tests and in spelling bees (Benny and George were usually the team captains who did the picking for baseball). They seemed to think that I didn’t want to hit the baseball, and I seemed to think that they didn’t want to succeed in math. What little kid doesn’t want to hit baseballs or do well in math?
At school, I learned that I was often “the un-chosen.” But if I could just get to my father’s lap, I could rest in this place where I knew that I was relentlessly chosen, and I could do nothing to be un-chosen. On my father’s lap, I was entirely at home.
At the time I couldn’t see what it was that my father saw in me, but now I know that it was the “I” that wondered what it was that he saw in me and that wanted to be chosen. James 4:5 “He yearns jealously over the spirit (the breath) that he has made to dwell in us.” He sees himself, the Unseen Seer.
My old friend Rich never knew his father. During the riots at Cabrini Green in Chicago in 1968, when he was only six, he was placed in an emergency shelter in a Catholic Church. That night the priest chose him… and molested him… and then told him that he had been chosen because God the Father did not love him. In other words, he was chosen to be the un-chosen.
What does Our Father in Heaven think of the un-chosen?
In Genesis 12, for no apparent reason, God chooses to bless Abram, so that he would be a blessing. He chooses to bless Abram and his Seed, but in the process of choosing Abram’s Seed, Eliezer, Hagar, and Ishmael are not chosen. We’ve been taught that endless conscious torment in “hell” is the chosen destiny of the unchosen.
In Genesis 15, Abram complains to God that Eliezer, his Syrian slave, is set to inherit all that Abram owns. And God informs Abram that Eliezer is not chosen to be his heir, for Abram’s Seed is chosen.
In Genesis 16, eighty-five-year-old Abram still has no child and Sarai chooses to be the chosen; she gives, Hagar, her Egyptian slave girl to Abram. Hagar conceives but then looks on Sarai with dishonor. Sarai, with Abram’s approval, “afflicts” Hagar and Hagar flees. Hagar had hoped that her child would be chosen, but now she and her child are unchosen by Abram, Sarai, and, apparently, God. She feels like my old friend Rich.
“The Angel of Yahweh,” the God/man, finds her and instead of consigning her to endless conscious torment in hell, he promises to bless her with a son whom she is to name, “Ishmael.” And then, she names Yahweh; she calls him “Elroy (the God who sees),” saying “Truly here, I have seen the One who sees me.”
Hagar is not chosen to be named as the great-grandmother of Jesus, but she is chosen to see Jesus. And when she sees Jesus, I bet she sees her afflictions etched on his back. She was un-chosen because she was chosen to see that she was saved by Yahweh—”Yahweh is Salvation:” Jesus.
At the Lord’s instruction, Hagar returns to Abram, and Ishmael is raised as the only begotten and chosen son of Abram for thirteen years. . . until God informs 99-year-old Abram (whom he now calls Abraham) that Sarai (now Sarah) shall conceive and give birth to the promised Seed.
In Genesis 21, at a party for one-year-old Isaac (which means “he laughs”), Sarah sees fourteen-year-old Ishmael laughing, and says to Abraham “Cast out this slave woman with her son; he will not inherit with my son.”
Sarah had chosen to be the chosen, which ironically meant that she wasn’t the chosen, but the chooser. Now she thinks that she is chosen because another is not chosen, which means that she is alone. Sarah is just like us, mother church.
In the wilderness, Hagar watches and weeps as her son Ishmael (it means “God hears”) begins to die. The Angel of God calls to Hagar saying, “God has heard the voice of the boy, where he is.” There is something about this place where Ishmael feels unchosen and stripped of his “fig leaves” (They are the product of the illusion that he is the chooser.) that allows him to hear that he is chosen by the one who hears him.
The night after he was abused, as he lay in the dark weeping, Rich heard a voice. It said, “Richard, it wasn’t your fault.” He got up and looked to see who was talking but saw no one. “Peter, I must have heard that voice a hundred times over the next thirty-four years.” When he was forty, he learned that the voice was Jesus, and then he began to see him. And it was my pleasure to tell Rich, “Your father is my father, and my father is your father.”
In Scripture, it’s fascinating to see how the unchosen are chosen and quite sobering to see how the chosen are unchosen . . . for a time. It’s not only Ishmael; Isaac also felt unchosen on Mt. Moriah, now known as Mt. Calvary. It’s not only Hagar the Egyptian; Sarah and her sons, the Israelites, also felt unchosen. The Sons of Israel were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. It’s not only Eliezer.
In Jesus’ day the ancient name “Eliezer (It means ‘God is Help.’)” was pronounced, “Lazarus.” And Jesus told a story about a rich man (who looks just like Judah), and a man named Lazarus (who now rests in Abraham’s “bosom,” also translated “lap”). Judah is in Hades, on the other side of a chasm, because he wouldn’t help poor Lazarus who had been lying at his door; Judah (father of the Jews) believed that he was chosen, and so, Lazarus was not chosen.
No man can cross the chasm, but Jesus, King of the Jews, descends into hell transforming it into heaven, and Jesus levels every chasm. He is the Promised Seed, the Chosen One, who chooses to bless everyone with the knowledge that they have been chosen in him, for he chooses to be chosen in us—Like a seed to be planted in the ground, he said, “Take and eat. Take and drink.”
To truly know that you are eternally and irrevocably chosen, perhaps you must be unchosen in space and time, or, at least, think you are unchosen; to be “saved” you must have been “unsaved,” or, at least, must have thought that you were unsaved at some point in space and time.
It’s not only Eliezer (“God is Help”) that is unchosen. Jesus (“God is Salvation”) is chosen to be unchosen by all of us, and, perhaps, for a moment, along with us, even to believe that he is “forsaken” by God. So that, in us and along with us, he can hear that we have always been the Chosen—not the Chooser, but the Chosen.
The point of election is not that some are chosen and others are not chosen, but that God is the Chooser. You can only freely choose the Good, who is the Life, who is the presence of God your Father, once you come to rest in the knowledge that you are the Chosen.
It’s ironic, but only the Chosen can freely choose the Chooser of all things and be at home on his lap; Only then can we see the Unseen Seer. . . our Dad.