Day 3: God, What can you do through me?
What am I good at? Where do my strengths lie? What are my weaknesses? These are all questions, we have asked ourselves countless times. If we are courageous enough, we just might ask someone else to help us with this. Sometimes we may even listen!
Years ago, I was introduced to the work of man by the name of Henri Nouwen. For years, this renowned theologian, Ivy-league professor, and biblically astute man was called upon to speak in different places and for different purposes. His influence was incredible and his reach beyond most of his contemporaries. He really was an incredible person in many circles. However, one summer in 1985 he served in a community of respite for middle-aged people with severe mental and physical handicaps in Trosly France called “L’Arche”. Although it was hard work, he was taken in by the sheer volume of joy and peace he felt in his service. A year after his time there, this learned, scholar with over 31 years of academic success was ransacked by the reckless, raging furious love of God - to borrow loosely from Chesterton - and left academia with all of accolades to serve at a sister organization in Toronto, Canada called L’Arche Daybreak. The work was equally difficult and even as a priest with an extensive resume, Nouwen endured a great deal of struggle and even depression. Eventually, Nouwen found his place in God’s will at L’Arche. But How? In an interview from Christianity Today, Nouwen explained his love for this community and his realization, "L'Arche exists not to help the mentally handicapped get 'normal,' but to help them share their spiritual gifts with the world. The poor of spirit are given to us for our conversion. In their poverty, the mentally handicapped reveal God to us and hold us close to the gospel." (Christianity Today, October 3, 1994)
Nouwen learned what so many hunger to see, but just won’t open their eyes to taste. When God is working through us, He is shaping us to serve others and allowing us to be served at the same time. However, we often feel as if we are inadequate to the task. We feel that “my gifts are just not in the area” and then write off the opportunity as if God were in the business of just using us where we thought we’d be useful. Sometimes we make excuses and come up with shallow justifications for not even trying. Other times we are just scared - but that is for another day. What we must understand about God is that He knows what we can accomplish and if He is stirring our hearts with the matters of the world around us, it is most likely because He knows that we are more than capable to handle the task. Our job is to be willing to ask, “God what can you do through me?” or as we sometimes say it, “What do I have to offer?” God’s answer isn’t based on the quality of our talents, gifts, or opportunities. God has little or no need of people who rely soley on their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. He uses them, but it really isn’t what He’s looking for. Our task is to accept that God is looking for people who are faithful and obedient. He does and will apply our gifts, but it’s our willingness to serve that God uses more than anything else. God will qualify the servant, but we must be willing to ask him, How.
Read Matthew 5:3-12 Consider today the implications of each of the “beatitudes”. Jesus’ thoughts here should be understood as having present meaning, not simply down the road when we get it. Instead we are to ask, what does it mean to be pure in heart? A person who mourns? Someone who hungers for righteousness? As you consider these things, ask the LORD to examine your heart for your motives and purposes. Make a list of the ways that God currently is calling you to live as this passage calls you to. For further reflection consider: Galatians 5:19-26; Psalm 51:5-11;
Write out a prayer to God today. Ask God to make clear to you the areas in your life that need to be transformed. Also, ask God to help you to see your gifts and how He has blessed you to be a blessing to others. As you write out your prayer, ask God to give you an example of how he has used you up to this point. Close your prayer with a request to God to open your eyes to what He’s calling you to.
Go in Peace!