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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Replacement

I was standing in line at the post office when my cell phone rang. It registered as one of my colleagues. That’s odd. She always emails.
“Hello? Julie?” Her voice sounded strained, panicked. She didn’t pause for me to say hello. “The speaker just cancelled for my conference; it starts tomorrow. I have hundreds of people on their way from all over the country. Please tell me you’re available to replace her.”
And so, for neither the first nor the last time, I became (trumpet flourish):The Replacement. I flew into a frenzy. I had to reshuffle appointments while creating a fresh presentation to parallel the topics the original speaker advertised. I had only hours to pack for the week-long trip before getting on the road.
Don’t think for a minute I’m complaining. I’m a willing replacement. When a conference director or TV interviewer tells me, “We’d love to have you back,” I always reply, “I’d love to be back. And, if you ever need a last-minute replacement, I’d be happy to fill in.” I mean it, too.
There might be a temptation for some to feel slighted, like, why wasn’t I invited first? But a true replacement is as Paul suggested to Timothy, “ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV). That’s actually a great motto. Like a backup quarterback, I never know which day I’ll get called in.
I was noodling on this as I prepared for a last-minute radio broadcast the other morning. That’s when my Bible reading took me to Acts. The followers, huddled in the upper room waiting, did a head count. Only eleven original disciples remained, since the betrayer Judas had allowed guilt to drive him to suicide.
Peter, remembering an Old-Testament prophecy, knew the disciples (learners), about to turn into apostles (witnesses), needed a twelfth man.
My eyes froze on something I’d never noticed before. The circle of Christ-followers included a crew of replacements waiting on the bench. Everywhere Jesus had gone during His ministry years, these folks had followed. They’d heard all His sermons. They’d slept where He slept and travelled the roads He trod. There had always been the big twelve—the ones we hear about. But there were others, just as faithful, just as attentive, just as available.
After identifying two of these followers with potential, Matthias and Justus, Peter voiced the group’s prayer, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry” (Acts 1:24-25 NLT).
When the answer came back as Matthias, Matthias willingly became the twelfth man replacement: “And he was numbered with the eleven apostles,” Luke reports in a matter-of-fact tone (Acts 1:26).
We know little about Matthias. Clearly, he didn’t trumpet his own publicity, but God took notice of his willingness to serve, his faithful heart, his availability. So, in honor of Matthias, and replacements near and far, I’ve prepared a Manifesto for Replacements
As a Professional Replacement I will …
  • be available
  • be enthusiastic
  • be prepared to jump in with little notice
  • check my ego at the door
  • bring a good attitude with me
  • fill in wherever I’m needed
  • seek others’ best interests over my own

Matthias gained an unparalleled privilege when he agreed to become God’s Replacement. I gained the privilege of addressing an attentive, enthusiastic crowd at my friend’s conference. And so it will go any time we agree to join God’s team as The Replacement.

Blessings and prayers,

 © 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: