Have you ever felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit, urging you to speak up, act out, or pursue a calling that you have stifled? It could be a big endeavor, like full-time ministry, or a small nudge, such as sharing the Gospel with your waitress. In either case, we have a hard time submitting to the will of God and how he intends to use us. We want to be used by God, but we often feel ill-prepared, inadequate, and stuck in old habits.
This is a common experience among believers and one that I have felt in my own walk with the Lord. “Of course God can save me, but there is no way he would use me because…”. You fill in the blank.
God, in his loving wisdom, knew we would feel this way. He knew that we would look at ourselves and see what we lack. Thankfully, he provided some key examples in his Word to help us say “Here I am, Lord” when he calls.
One reason many feel that God cannot use them is due to their weaknesses. In Exodus 3, Moses receives a call from the Lord to return to Egypt and bring the Israelites out of slavery. His response to this call was, “Who am I that I should go?” (Ex. 3:11). Moses does not feel equipped to embark on such a calling. Yet, notice God’s answer. He does not dismiss Moses’ shortcomings or hesitations but instead shifts Moses’ eyes onto his Redeemer with a promise: “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12).
Unfortunately, God’s presence was not a convincing answer for Moses, because his excuses continue, urging God to pick someone else. Moses reminds God that he lacks eloquence and is slow in speech (Ex. 4:10). He feels inadequate, knowing his own skills are insufficient to get the job done.
How often is this our response? Even as Christians, after admitting our need for a Savior, we are so quick to fall back into self-reliance and forget God’s sovereignty. We allow our need for control and fear of failure to dictate our decisions. So again, we see the Lord shift Moses’ eyes off of himself. He does not affirm Moses’ worth and ability, but instead reminds him of God’s all-sufficient power:
“Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
There are many reasons we feel inadequate. Maybe it’s a lack of education, a speech impediment, or a temptation we cannot shake. Maybe it’s anxiety, depression, or struggling to make friends. The truth is that even the “best” of us are not worthy of the call of Jesus Christ. None of us can stand before God and say we are sufficient to execute his plan. Instead, we constantly turn our gaze to the author and perfecter of our faith, the one who can do abundantly more than we could ask or think through his Spirit inside us. God does not call us for who we are, but for who he is.
Guilt & Shame
Another reason we hesitate to submit to God’s calling is shame of the past. In 2 Samuel 11 we see King David lust after a woman, commit adultery with her, and murder her husband to cover his sin. If anyone has reason for shame and condemnation, it is David. Yet, in Scripture, David is called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). How could this be?
When David is confronted by the prophet Nathan, he admits his guilt before God. In Psalm 51, he falls to his knees before the Father with immense sorrow over his sin. Rather than running away from God in shame, he runs to God in repentance:
“My sacrifice is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, God, you will not despise.”
Guilt and shame are real emotions we experience. Everyone makes choices they regret or wish they could undo, but it is our response to those choices that matters. David was a man after God’s own heart not because he was morally adept or without sin, but because when he did sin, he walked in repentance. Our remorse over the past should bring us humbly before the Father, just as it did for David.
If you are a Christian, your past is covered by the blood of the cross. Romans 8 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The shame you are carrying is an attack from the enemy to keep you from walking obediently in the plans God has set before you. Confess, turn from your sin, and submit to his will. He can still use you. Our hope is never in our reputation and success, but always in God’s forgiveness and presence.
Boast in the Lord
All throughout Scripture, God seems to choose those with the greatest areas of shame and inadequacy to carry out his plans. Gideon was the least from the weakest clan. Joseph was full of pride. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Peter denied Jesus. Paul persecuted and murdered Christians. Story after story, we see God redeem sinners and use them to bring his glorious story to fruition.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-31
If you are stuck telling yourself that God cannot use you, that your past is too heavy, your temptations too shameful, or your weaknesses too great, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Your past is evidence of what the salvation of the Lord has brought you out of. Your temptations display your daily need for a Savior and dependence on him. Your weakness is the greatest place for God to show off his power.
Where his strength is most needed, his power is most evident and he is most glorified. Quit looking to your own strength, and submit to God’s call. “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”