“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” Ephesians 3:20-21
It can be a scary thing when God asks you to serve Him. Now, there are many reasons that this statement may be true, but the one I’m currently getting at is the moment when we realize that we are sinful humans and so, so weak – continually messing up and making wrong choices…and yet, God is asking us to get out and preach the gospel, and to be His hands and feet, showing love to the desperate and dying souls we see each day! We realize that all that we do and say may be the only glimpse of the heart of Jesus that people will ever see! We wonder, “How can this be?? God should be using someone who’s far more righteous and holy than me! I can scarcely even stand firm in my own relationship with the Lord, let alone leading others to Him, or being an example of His love in a right way that will draw people to Him instead of causing them to turn away!” And we can see our own weaknesses in speaking with people, because so often either we miss the opportunity because we’re too shy or we don’t know what to say, or we do try talking to them, only to realize that we have no great wisdom or understanding that can change their lives; when we don’t see people falling to their knees in tears wanting to repent after we talk to them, and instead, we get eyes rolling and mocking laughter, and we begin to wonder…will we ever be able to change someone’s life?
The answer is: no. We can’t. And the more we try in our own strength, the more we will see our glaring inability to help anyone – truly help them – in the ways they most need. However, there is hope! And it is such a sweet truth that can relieve such a great weight of inadequacy off of our shoulders. The truth is this: Only God can change lives. But He offers His power freely to all who ask (Luke 11:13), so that, when we are willing, His power can actually flow through us, and work through us in ways that we would be unable to accomplish any other way. We were made with a “driver’s seat” in our souls, so to speak. And we can have one of 3 “chauffeurs”: Either our flesh, the devil, or the Holy Spirit. For most of us, our flesh prefers that spot, and much of what we do and say comes from our sin nature, and our weak fleshly thoughts and desires. And when we come across someone who is weighed down by heavy burdens, our flesh is just a scrawny, weak little thing, and just doesn’t have the power to help. In fact, if we don’t carefully rein it in, our flesh can actually end up adding burdens to the poor, already weighed down person instead of helping them to be free! However, when we are “putting to death the deeds of the flesh”, and we call upon Jesus to fill us with His strength and power to change lives, and we ask Him to guide and control our words and thoughts and actions, we are kicking our flesh out of the drivers’ seat and letting the Holy Spirit take control…and we essentially must humble ourselves and become willing tools for His use, letting Him “drive” wherever He wants. When we ask God to fill us and take control and to fill us with the power of His might…He will. And it is amazing how He can bring forth great fruitfulness from situations that seemed questionable, and how He can fill us with strength when we have none, and how He can speak through us to someone’s heart in exactly the ways that they need…and it doesn’t matter if we know the person, and it doesn’t matter if we feel excited, and it doesn’t matter if we are tired, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t know all the right verses that apply to a situation, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t feel bold or don’t know what to say. It doesn’t matter because, we can cast ourselves entirely on Christ’s strength and power, and in the moment that we need it, the wisdom, the understanding, the strength, will all be there. “…do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11b-12
When God spoke these truths to my own heart, I felt such a new freedom to serve Him however and whenever He called me to…because it is no longer dependent on me feeling “prepared” or spiritual enough (though always being prepared, by spending as much time in His presence as possible is invaluable). All that we do comes straight from HIS power, and not our own striving. And when I feel totally inadequate and weak, “His power is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a), because He gets all of the glory for the miracle of bringing forth fruit in spite of my weaknesses, and for using me in the ways that I thought were impossible, and for overcoming my areas of weakness with His great power and the help and encouragement of His Holy Spirit. It is such a wonderful mercy! And it causes me much rejoicing, because it is so sweet for God to still use us in spite of all of our weaknesses and failings…and not just to use us, but if we are willing, He will actually be able to rescue many through the use of our lives.