Rachel Awtrey

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To the one who feels rejected

There’s two different times when life will say, “no I don't think so.” One is when you’re rejected and plans come to a screeching halt. The other is when you’re scooped from your rejection and life takes a screeching halt when a second chance pops up.

Both have happened numerous amount of times in my life. But, I can take comfort in all the screeching halts because it’s where Jesus did his thang.

I’m no history buff but this rocked my world, so hang on with me and you might be left with goosebumps too. I think scripture is so powerful but it’s so much more powerful to me when I understand the context behind it. So I’m going to dive into context. 

(I listened to a podcast that explained so eloquently, I included the link at the bottom.)

In the Jewish education system there were different “levels.” All of these levels progressed in order to become a Rabbi someday. 

Boys and girls were allowed to go to the first level. This is where children learned the entire Torah and memorized it. If you did excellently, you were invited to advance to the second level. This is where the education ended for girls and they returned to what their family knew. Some boys didn’t even advance to the next level and were sent back to their family trade: fishing, carpentry, etc. A few more levels passed, a make it or break it for many boys and eventually you reached a level that was extremely prestigious. 

This level was one of the last, where boys went to Rabbis and asked to follow them, to become their “disciple” and learn from what they knew and taught. In order to be accepted as a disciple, this individual had to prove that he knew everything the system had taught him. Then, the Rabbi would tell the young man “yes, I approve” or “no, you are not worthy.” 

Some boys in the Jewish education system were told “no” at this point and they went back to their family trade, after all the hard work and dedication. That sucks.

Others were told yes and they followed around these Rabbi’s in groups of around 12-15 young men until they were told that they were worthy of holding the authority of a Rabbi. These young men had to follow their every move, do whatever the Rabbi told them to say or do and the Rabbi would frequently throw in other crazy rules just so that people on the street knew who these young men were following or being discipled by. These small rules and quirks were called “yokes.” (I’ll get back to this in a second, but hold on to it because it’s a golden nugget.)

Gosh, I find myself in this situation all the time. I go through all the “levels” necessary to get somewhere and I vulnerably feel as if I have to prove myself and strive for acceptance and I put my worth in someone else’s opinion of me. Sometimes, people say, “Yeah, you’re cool. You can sit with us” or people stare at me with a cold, blank stare and I know the answer before the “no” even has to leave their lips.

Jesus was in this exact same position too. He was one of the Jewish boys that came through this system. Of course, he did it excellently (uh, he was God) but there was a little twist he put on it. Once he eventually became a Rabbi, he did something tremendous.

We all know that Jesus had “disciples.” But these disciples were different than the rest. These men that followed Jesus didn’t approach Jesus and ask for his approval and ask if they were worthy enough to follow him. No. Jesus wasn’t only approachable but he approached. 

Scripture proves it: 

 
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Peter and Andrew. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.
— Matthew 4:18-22.
 

n two different occasions Jesus went out to find men on his own. These men were practicing their family trade: fishing. Which means that they were rejected from the school system and told they weren’t enough to complete and become a Rabbi. Jesus went to them, called them out and gave them a second chance. 

Just when Peter, Andrew, James and John thought their opportunity was over, the door was shut, they weren’t worthy of continuing in something they wanted, Jesus opened the door, removed them from their rejection and called them to be with him. That’s why they dropped their nets “at once” because they saw the enormous opportunity in front of them and they were so honored to have been seen when they though they failed. 

No questions asked, no striving necessary. Jesus is for the underdogs. He does this for us too. Unlike the other Rabbis, Jesus wants us to follow him without having to prove ourselves first, he begs for us to be his disciples. 

Let’s go back to the “yoke” thing.

 
Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30
 

His “yoke is easy.” Thank you Lord! He doesn’t have small minuscule rules to follow or quirky pressure we have to put on ourselves to keep up the standard Rabbis set. He just wants us to simply follow him, at once, just like the fishermen. We too should be honored and flattered that someone like Jesus wants us to be apart of his story.

So, to me as a little girl, who wanted to play on the monkey bars with other girls and was told “no,” to the hurt girl that was left out and not invited to a party, to the girl sitting in a car just broken up with, to the girl that received the letter of rejection in the mail from your dream college, Jesus still has something for you and your story is not over. 

Do your thing, be where you are and invest in what you are currently doing and he will return to you, open a door that you didn’t know existed, or that might have been slammed closed. 

If you don’t love Jesus, you just don’t know him because he fights for the overlooked and forgotten which ultimately means that you are, in fact, seen and remembered.

 
 

Photography // The beautiful Sophie Brendle Photography

Podcast //  Jen Hatmaker at Women's Conference