Most of us would like to have the experience of serving God in some significant way. We probably even have some ideas about what that would be. Try completing this sentence:
More than anything I want God to use me to ______________.
I thought it would be interesting to try this on social media. So I put it out on Facebook and Twitter. Here are some of the replies I received:
More than anything else, I want God to use me to:
I recognize these as godly desires for service. But I was eager to ask each of these people, “So how are you doing with that?”
I imagine a number of them are moving forward. But others, I would guess, share their dreams with a certain regretful longing.
They don’t feel up to the task. They don’t believe they’re qualified.
Where are you in all this?
You’re eager to share that burden God has given you. Your hand is in the air, but God won’t pick you—so you think. You could be unqualified because of what you’re lacking, or maybe you feel disqualified by circumstances in your life. You look in the mirror and say, “God’s going to choose someone else.”
“God Doesn’t Want Me”
When I talk to people about serving God, one of the saddest responses I hear is, “God doesn’t want me. Not after what I’ve done.”
They assume God is just like a lot of people they know. He writes us off. He holds grudges.
Don’t you think Peter must have felt that way? Here’s a guy Jesus personally chose and spent a lot of time with. It had to mean something when Jesus called him the Rock—what guy wouldn’t like being given that name?
But after he did exactly what Jesus told him he would do, denying him at the moment of crisis, Peter retreated to his old life and figured he was off the list.
Jesus had made it a point to tell him he’d fail. Why would he do that? Peter probably thought Jesus was saying, “You’re not going to make it after all. Watch how you screw up in a few hours.”
Peter went fishing, the only other life he knew. Out there on the boat that early morning, he reflected on the shipwreck of all his dreams. Jesus had qualified him, and that was a miracle. He had disqualified himself, and that was a tragedy.
Then he looked up to see a figure on the shore. Against all odds, it was Jesus, waving at him, telling him there was still work to do, and what was he doing out on that boat? I still choose you.
What about Moses? He had been raised like a prince, the world at his feet. But he lost his temper, killed a soldier, and fled into exile in the badlands of Egypt. From prince of Egypt to leader of the pack of sheep, just like that. Decades passed.
He married and moved on. So did God, he figured. Then he saw something bright—a bush in flames, and with it a voice, commissioning him. I still choose you.
I’m sure every one of these people was surrounded by jabbering voices all too ready to bring up the past. People love reminding others of their plight.
The problem is that we listen to them. We take them to heart.
Coming to the end of me means allowing Jesus to put an end to the guilt and shame of the past. He deletes your permanent record and offers you a new beginning with a new purpose.
Strength in Weakness
What’s the past burden you’re still carrying? Adultery? Go talk to David the king. Lying? Deception? Abraham and Isaac knew a little about that. A sordid past? God chose Rahab, a prostitute. Anger and temper issues? James and John fit into God’s plan anyhow.
Maybe today it’s your turn. Jesus has a message for you. It has nothing to do with your qualifications. It has to do with coming to the end of yourself, because that’s when God can use you in the very best way. By His grace, and by nothing you can offer, He chooses you.
In fact, you may feel held back by one particular issue, and that issue is precisely what God wants to use. It’s actually one of favorite strategies. Your “disqualifier” becomes God’s qualifier.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul wrote that the message of the Gospel is foolishness to the rest of the world, but followers of Christ recognize it as the power of God. In other words, our entire faith is built on God being glorified through what looks to everyone else as failure and defeat.
Paul was speaking of the cross, a symbol of utter shame and humiliation at that time. The Romans put thieves and killers on crosses. The Christians then used the cross as a symbol of God’s power. Why would anyone do that? Because it’s wisdom. Because everything we knew was wrong.
What’s your point of disqualification? How is God going to use it?
“I’m Not Ready”
You hear all these things and nod your head. Sure, it’s all true. God can use anybody, even you. But you have one last excuse card to play: “I’m not ready.”
You say, “I need to learn more first. I need to grow more. I don’t want to jump into anything before I’ve done all my homework.”
It sounds downright prudent and sensible, doesn’t it? Over the years, I’ve seen people with Kingdom success written all over them. I knew it was only a matter of time before God did something extraordinary through them. I watched them over time as they got ready, got ready—then got ready some more. They never seemed to graduate from the school of getting ready.
The most effective Christians—the ones most likely to tell their friends about Jesus—are often newly reborn believers still filled with fresh excitement. It’s also true that the longer people are in the fold, the more likely they are to figure out that others have more information and that maybe they themselves aren’t “ready” after all.
But boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t take account of our lack or our what-ifs. Don’t have the courage? He’ll give it to you. Don’t have the words? He’s got you covered.
In what seems like the smallest of moments, in brief encounters with other people, He’ll take you and speak a life-changing word through you. When God chooses you, He equips you. Every time. That’s how the power of God shows through. He loves to take our messes and make them His masterworks.
The biggest reason you can’t get it done is the precise reason He can—maybe the precise setting He wants to use. What is it for you? A limitation? A memory? An age? A fear?
Doesn’t matter. File away your disqualifications. Surrender them. Renounce them (over and over again if you have to). Get to the end of yourself and you’ll find you are in the right place to be used significantly by God.
Taken from The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman by David C. Cook. Used with permission by Publisher. All rights reserved.
Kyle Idleman is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., the fifth largest church in America. IdlemanÕs Not a Fan has sold 1.3 million copies to date with another 400,000 of associated products sold, and AHA was a staple on the 2014 best-seller lists and nominated for several awards. The bestselling author is a frequent speaker at conferences and events around the world. Idleman and his wife have four children.