Thursday, November 25, 2010
Yes, God can use us!
Have you ever noticed how some people are always expectant? No matter what kind of beating life gives them, they always seem ready to look ahead. To believe in the future. For them life is full of possibilities.
There are on the other hand people who always seem reluctant. Somehow they just cannot grab a vision for the future. They are fearful and hesitant, unwilling to risk or grow. One such man was complaining to a friend. “Life” he said, “is terrible. No matter what I do I fail. All my relationships are shallow, my job is the pits, I don’t know why I as even born.” His friend said to him, “You just can’t look at life that way. God created you for a purpose, and I know he has a job for you to do.” At that the complainer replied, “Well I can tell you right now, I’m not going to do it.”
Sometimes as we think about Biblical heroes, we tend to think that they must have all been the positive, expectant types - people so receptive to God that they would go anywhere and do anything for Him.
The fact! Not even close! Let me offer an example. The Christmas story. As I was reading this story it suddenly hit me. Wow, there is a lot of fear here. A lot of.. reluctance. That is amazing…. Because we have some big names here. Mary and Joseph. The shepherds! And Zechariah! But every time we turn around there are the angels say… , wait, relax, be not afraid… be not afraid… be not afraid…. It seems like everyone in the story enters the scene in fear. Not in joy, expectation, or hope, but in fear.
Mary was afraid. Joseph was afraid. The shepherds were afraid. Of whom, of what where they afraid? Was it God? Perhaps it would be better to say they were afraid of what was unfolding. Because what was unfolding was, different, mysterious, unexpected. It was a shift, a radical shift from the status quo. From what had been expected. Even from what seemed rational, logical. No, it was no easy task to go along with God as he revealed, unfolded a new plan, a new direction.
Now this fear was not totally inappropriate. I mean look at Mary – there she was, a young, inexperienced girl who was given startling news. She was going to give birth to the Messiah. And this birth was out of wedlock. Socially unacceptable. Yes, she had reason to fear, not only the girth, but Joseph’s reaction, the community’s judgment.
But what about Zechariah? Zechariah as a priest, a holy man. He had been chose by “the lot” to offer incense on the great altar. Big affirmation. This was the modern day equivalent of being asked to preach at the White House?
But then God came. And he revealed to Zechariah his part in the drama. And Zeke…. Well he was afraid! I supposed we shouldn’t be too afraid at this initial response. I mean powerful encounters with God of any sort do tend to be a bit of a shock… Who wouldn’t be surprised to suddenly run into an angel of the lord, and to hear startling news of a soon to be son. Not surprising. But what is surprising is the continued fear.
Even after the angel outlined God’s plan for him, a plan that was truly exciting, Zechariah was fearful. Even after the news was offered that he would finally have a son, something he had prayed for… so this wasn’t even a new plan… he was fearful. So fearful that God silenced him, literally, until the baby was born. What was it was with Zeke? What is it, so often with us!!
God comes – one way or another God reveals his purpose… reveals a new option… opens a new door… inspires us, moves us….. and we…. Well, as we look as this new option for our lives…. we respond with fear. We get scared. We hold back. We entrench.
Sometimes there is a fear of what God is asking for. God’s call can be costly sometimes. Most of it, I think, has to do with vulnerability! We are afraid we just not enough. Aren’t spiritual enough, talented enough, deep enoughAt other times I’m afraid I’ll be exposed.
But lets get back to Zeke… Zechariah was fearful. He hesitated. In fact he never did say, “Yes” to God. But in the end? God made something happen. That is the way God is. In spite of ourselves, God uses us
It is amazing how God can break through fear, efforts to hold back, unwillingness – and accomplish incredible things. We need to understand what God can do with human inadequacy. We have to banish the myth that God works only through strength. That God uses only the talented, the special, the strong… not so. Look at the Christmas story. Zechariah, priest of little faith. Elizabeth the barren. Mary the young. Joseph the simple and uneducated. Shepherds, dirty and rejected…all them are limited, marginal – and all of them are important. All of them are used by God. And the result, something incredible emerges.
So it was so it can be. To each of us the call of God will come. To each of us the Spirit of the Lord will speak, and God will say… “I have a plan, and you are a part of it.”
And in spite of ourselves -- Our greed, selfishness, lack of vision, feeble faith, weaknesses, our fear… God will work his purpose out, and there will be joy!