Well, here we are beginning the last week of July and for the past 14 years that has meant one very important thing…time for the Clinton County Fair! It has always been the highlight and hallmark of summer. I can’t even remember how many animals and projects we’ve hauled to the fair over the past 14 years but the number is a big one. The number that isn’t big however is the number of times we’ve come home with the “Grand Champion” prize ribbon. In all the years with all the projects I can remember only one Grand and 2 or 3 Reserve Grand ribbons, yet the kids go back year after year and love it! When I look around the fair grounds and see the couple hundred kids who come to the fair, all hoping to get chosen “Grand Champion”, it’s a hope but not necessarily the purpose.
There are a lot of lessons and humility building at the fair. I remember standing in line with Shannon one year to have her sewing project judged. She was 10 and the outfit so proudly clutched in her little hands was beautiful but riddled with novice mistakes and flaws. She was so excited to present the judge her work…until a “big girl” took her place in line behind her holding the most gorgeous prom gown I had ever seen. It looked like something a Disney princess would wear. Shannon looked at that gown and then down at her outfit and her head drooped just a wee little bit. That 17 year old 4-Her, not missing a beat, bent down and asked Shannon if she could get a better look at her pretty yellow outfit. At that point I just stood back and watched the “fair magic” unravel. They went on to have a happy chat about first projects and practicing and all the things that make someone good at something. I have great memories of lots of frustrated and often tearful kids sitting on the bench in the barn after realizing that animal that looked magnificent in their barn, didn’t get chosen because it didn’t look quite as magnificent as the one somebody else brought. One year a neighbor girl with a naughty steer said through tears, “It’s just too hard!” I smiled and replied “That’s what makes being here so great, if it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it! It’s really about having the courage and drive to be here, not about being chosen as the best.”
Thank goodness being a child of God isn’t like competing for the Grand Champion ribbon at the County Fair! We don’t have to worry about everything being perfect to be chosen. We don’t have to size up the competition and worry about being chosen the judges favorite. In every event or category at the fair there is only one chosen by the judge…we are loved by a God who chose us and what’s more, He picked us first so we know He wants us for his own. We are his “pearl of great price!” Even though we’ve been chosen, living a life as God’s chosen is much better if we all take a lesson or two from the fair. Life is just better if we encourage each other like the big girl in the sewing line. Life is just better if we don’t compare ourselves and our talents with those of others. Life is just better if we realize it’s about the drive, courage and hard work. Sometimes life is a team sport and it’s a good idea to remember that the teammate you stop to lend a helping hand to is also chosen by the same God who loves you and that gives them great value. I suppose as we load up the stuff and head to the fair we’d all do well to remember the one Grand Champion prize that matters…heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three things you can start doing this week to remind yourself that the competition is over…you won…you have been chosen!
Blessings on your day!