For some reason, an old thought popped into my mind yesterday. The thought was simply, “I want to be used.” I say this is an old thought, because this was my desire forty years ago when I entered Christian ministry.
As I pondered that, it quickly occurred to me that the concept of being used has changed quite a bit. These days, our mindset is often one of fear–fear that we’ll be used. We don’t want to be used. In fact, we guard against being used. “If you become a tool, you’re a fool.”
I guess I’m old school in many ways. This is one of them. I tend to buck against the trend that you have to be number one—that you have to be in total control of your own destiny. I’ve come to realize that very little of that destiny is in our control. There are too many outside forces at work.
Drifting with the Current
It’s not that I think we just have to drift with the current–far from it, in fact. It’s just that I think we need to take into consideration that our best-laid plans will seldom come to fruition in the ways we had foreseen. That’s where we see God at work.
When I first became a Christian, my favorite verse of Scripture was Romans 8:28. In this passage, the Apostle Paul indicates that God works in all things for us. That means (among other things), even when I screw up, God will be working in my circumstances for my own good. I suppose that was my favorite verse because it was back then that I first realized what a major screw-up I was.
Interestingly enough, the more I grow, the more I realize how often I fall short. Spiritual myopia can be a wonderful thing. As our spiritual eyesight gets better, we see things in ourselves that can be quite disturbing. If nothing else, it certainly keeps us humble.
“Just Use Me Up”
The amazing thing about all this is that God (despite the chinks in our spiritual armor) still wants to use us. I, for one, still want to be used. If the Lord wants to use me as an instrument of his compassion, his healing, his grace, etc., I want to be available.
Singer Bill Withers once recorded a song entitled, “Use Me.” That song just grabs me. It has nothing to do with God, but it’s his story about being used by a woman—and liking it. He tells her, “Just use me up.” That’s my desire as well (to be used by the Lord—not a woman).
Being used is a scary thing. Being used strongly implies we’re not as much in control as we’d like. We’re uncomfortable with that thought and certainly with that mindset and context. Even if the “user” is the Lord, it’s daunting. After all, Scripture tells us, “It’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Still, it’s the best place to be.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]