“God’s promises are never affected by our failures. He can use us at any age.”
~Michael Youssef from Leading the Way.
How thankful I am that God’s promises are not affected in any way by human beings! Even those among us with the best intentions have failed at some time or another to carry out our responsibilities or to keep our promises. God’s promises have no power whatsoever apart from the truth of who He is. It is solely because I can count on God that I can count on His promises. Of course the reverse is true, as well. If I have a difficult time believing God’s promises, it simply means that I haven’t yet come to know Him fully; for if I knew Him, I could never doubt Him.
“Thus says the lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness (covenant love), justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASV)
I, on the other hand, am human, and therefore flawed. I may carry with me a certain amount of credibility, based on my reputation, but even if my character were absolutely pure (which, I assure you, it is not), there are many things in this world that are beyond my control. My body may break down, the bank may fold, my support system may fall apart... any one of these things could cause me to fail. Nothing, however, is beyond God’s control, which is exactly why He is unaffected by our failures.
“To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray
To be used of God, to show someone the way
I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire
To be used of God is my desire.” ~Audrey Mieir
I remember singing this chorus as I was growing up in the church. The lyrics are inspiring, to be sure, but so easy to misunderstand or misapply. For years I sang these words with the inaccurate understanding that being used by God would confirm my worth. I truly believed that if God used me in some significant way, I would then be assured that I had arrived at my spiritual destination. While others may believe the same thing, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
My confusion over this belief began as I started realizing that God uses flawed people...sometimes deeply flawed people, for His purposes. This revelation rocked and challenged my faith.
As I have shared previously, my father molested me and my three sisters as we were growing up in our Christian home (see “Thanksgiving for Dreadful Deeds”). In many other ways, however, my father was an example of a good Christian. He knew the Bible well, taught Sunday school classes, and even preached at times. He raised vegetables and generously shared his crops with others. He wrote inspirational poetry. Many have told me how blessed they were by my father, and how much he taught them about Jesus.
For quite some time it upset me terribly knowing that my father had a positive impact on others for Jesus Christ. I also wondered if perhaps it was wrong for me to be honest about what had happened in our home, thinking that it might discourage those he had impacted from walking with Christ. However, as I have grown in my knowledge of God, I have come to know Him as a God of both truth and grace. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and we are to live our lives transparently, as well. Neither is anyone exempt from his pure, undiluted grace. The more undeserving we are, the more perfect His grace appears. The fact that God used my flawed father in the lives of others simply confirms God’s greatness in using any of us despite our weaknesses.
In the lives of biblical saints who were used by God, we find many failures and character flaws as well. Moses, Jonah, and David all struggled against their human tendencies, and even caved to temptation at times. Peter was as unreliable as they come. Still, God used all of them mightily. If I am still tempted to elevate these servants in importance simply because God chose to use them, I only need to consider Balaam’s donkey, which possessed no sparkling spiritual tendencies, but was used, nevertheless.
Being used by God is a powerful and awe-inspiring experience, to be sure. But in light of God’s character, I am immediately humbled upon realizing that He has chosen to use me for a particular task. I am overwhelmed by His grace, and I am also charged with responsibility. It sends me to my knees, asking God to make me aware of my frailty so that I will lean more fully on Him. Instead of being proud, as I once imagined I would be, I tremble, praising Him for His grace.
Yes, God chooses to do most of His work on this earth through people (not to mention the occasional donkey). He can and does use people of any age, and even those of us who have failed, but that is due entirely to His character, not mine.
I am participating in the Tuesday meme, In Other Words, hosted today by Karen at In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus. Please visit her blog for links to more discussion on the above quote.