when average Joe meets extraordinary God

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16.7

Average.

Have you ever seen yourself in that light?

I have.

Some days, I still do.

I need to, but not in a negative way.

 

The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself,
it is thinking of myself less.
Timothy Keller

Have you ever wondered how or why God would choose to use you?

I have.

Many times.

Like every human being who’s walked this terrestrial planet, I’m a sinner…well, I was a sinner who became a saint by the saving grace Jesus offers everyone. Get that? Every one. All. However, I am not perfect, nor would I ever claim to be.

I was blessed to have been born into a Christian family, where God’s commands and His gospel were taught from a very young age.

I’d like to think I’ve grown some in my walk with Christ since He first captivated my heart at the tender age of four, but I’m still average.

First, I’m not a skilled evangelist. It’s simply not my gifting.

Second, I’m not a Bible scholar (by the world’s standards).

Third, I don’t have a degree in Christian counseling or a long list of credentials to put that claim to the test.

Fourth, my prayer life leaves a lot to be desired.

And finally, I’ve believed the lie that my legalistic background taught early on: that a girl with any amount of public education could not be used to further God’s Kingdom simply because she could not be saved. She had been “tarnished” by something of this world.

I remember, quite vividly actually, the first time I heard Him call my name. I was four. A child. I couldn’t comprehend the vastness of what He was about to do with my life. I simply knew, on some level, that I had been set apart for something huge; something beautiful.

When I was in grade school, I remember enjoying my Bible classes. Little did I know that God would be using the knowledge that was being stored in my mind and heart (memorization of Scripture) to get me through some of the darkest times of my 28-year existence. He still uses what I learned then in my life today.

My call to music ministry didn’t just happen. I remember pacing my dorm room and thinking that I wouldn’t go to this first Campus Crusade meeting simply because I didn’t know anyone…and I did not want to walk across campus by myself. Thank God for Jamie – a girl who would later become one of my closest friends. She knocked on my door and made me go. I didn’t know her from Adam and yet, I went. That night started the beginning of an amazing decade and fulfilled a desire God had placed in me at a young age: to share the talent He had given me with others for His glory.

Then came the call to use those gifts in my new home church…a place I never thought I’d end up at again after the experience I had back home. I definitely did not feel worthy of that call. I was attending a public college after all…wasn’t I? I couldn’t wrap my mind, much less my heart, around the real love that was shared among the community of believers at Brookings Wesleyan Church (now Gracepoint Church).

God used me there for six years and led me to where I am now: Minneapolis, MN – planting a church. I’m still baffled by His wanting to use me…and am reminded through Scripture, which is full of examples of the ordinary men and women He used for His extraordinary purposes:

  • Noah – God jumpstarted humanity again with his family. He built the ark when God asked him to and he was a drunkard.
  • Abraham – God blessed him with descendants whose number was larger than the count of stars and sands of the seashore and yet, he lied about his wife; not once, but twice!
  • Jacob – a man blessed by God was a deceiver. He also played favorites with his sons.
  • Joseph – a dreamer who was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery and was shipped off to Egypt. God used what they intended for evil for the good of many, Joseph included.  
  • Moses – a humble man who, much like myself, didn’t feel worthy of leading God’s people out of Egypt was a murderer.
  • Joshua – an ordinary man chosen to follow in the footsteps of a God-made leader (Moses).
  • Rahab – a prostitute who hid Israelite spies who were about to destroy her home town …plus, God used her in Jesus’ family line. Amazing, right?
  • Samson had serious issues with lust and anger.
  • David, a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and a murderer.
  • Paul persecuted the church prior to his choosing to follow Christ.
  • Peter denied Him…not once, but three times prior to His death on the cross.

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, rules with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Hebrews 11.33-34

Even Jesus was ordinary. He started out growing up in a lowly family and was a carpenter before the start of His ministry.

“If Christ Himself was ordinary, being a lowly carpenter’s son, why would we expect God to use only special people for His purposes…Think God can’t or won’t use you? Think again. His glory shines the greatest through the weakest of vessels.” – Elizabeth Marks

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chose the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. 1 Corinthians 1.27

We can also look at who Jesus chose for His disciples: A tax collector named Levi and simple fishermen (Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John). These uneducated men went on to turn the whole world upside down because they had found to have been with Jesus.

“If God chose only well-rounded people with no character flaws, some of the credit would inevitably go to the people and not to the Lord.” – Dr. Ray Pritchard

What did all of these people have in common besides being ordinary? Faith. The believed in God in faith: And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. Hebrews 11.6

They also willingly submitted to His will in their lives, even when it meant giving up their livelihood to follow Him. Some left family and friends, some left their countries to live in a foreign land and still others gave up their jobs to follow God’s leading. Their faith was real and it was demonstrated by action. They were obedient to God’s commands and when He said go, they went.

Because we are weak in our imperfection, we’re sometimes oblivious to the Holy Spirit’s urging. Worse yet, there are times when we actively fight against that urging. We not only turn a blind eye on occasion; we sometimes plug our ears and barricade our hearts.

I remember such a time in my life. I had opted to finally go on a short-term mission trip out to Wildwood, NJ (yes, there are places within the United States that need Christ just as much as third world countries do). I was chosen to serve on the worship ministries team and half way though that summer, my group’s leader asked if I’d consider being a part of the administrative and creative arts team. I stubbornly turned down that idea; called it ridiculous even and walked away. I’m not proud to say that I spit in God’s face at that request and have been left wondering what would have happened had I jumped at the opportunity. Where would I be today if I had followed Him then?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, we all play an important role in the Divine Plan He’s been weaving together since Creation. I’m not perfect nor would I ever claim to be. I’m just like you in that I have a set of temptations that I constantly battle against. I have my own set of insecurities, hang-ups and scars.

And yet…

Still…

God has chosen to use me in miraculous, extraordinary ways.

Why? Because He can. He’s God. Plus, He wants to. He loves me that much…something I’ll never fully comprehend.

There are still so many times when I feel unworthy of the calling He’s given me…in music; in hospitality; in something I haven’t quite figured out yet (whether that be through writing, women’s ministry, counseling, owning my own design consulting business…I don’t know).

Most of us may be “Average Joes,” but our Heavenly Father can use each one of us in marvelous and extraordinary ways.

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2 thoughts on “when average Joe meets extraordinary God

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