Having been raised in church, there’s a time in my life I like to refer to as halftime. It’s a period where I chose to quit making my life about God and decided to make choices that were selfish. I lived the opposite way of what I knew to be right. It wasn’t long before God started trying to get my attention. Things in my life started to go wrong. I was losing the blessings God had given me. Stubbornly, I kept going in the direction I was headed ignoring God’s attempts to get my attention. Finally, things started getting so bad that I had no choice, but to surrender. I laid down on my living room floor one night and prayed, “God, I give up. I can’t do this any more.” The storm stopped, but I still had to live with the consequences of that period in my life.
As I read through the book of Jonah, I see some similarities. He was a God fearing man who lived the way he was supposed to. When God asked him to preach, he ran from his calling. While he was going the opposite direction in a boat, God sent a great storm to get his attention, but he ignored it. The Bible says that he was sleeping in the boat when the others had to wake him. As the storm worsened, he knew the only choice was surrender. Jonah 1:15-16 says, “Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him” (NLT).
Even when you’ve made choices to run from God, He can use it for good. These sailors would never have given their lives to the Lord if Jonah wouldn’t have run away. They saw a powerful God who would stop at nothing until one of His lost sheep surrendered and came back into the fold. If you’ve been running from God, don’t wait until the storm gets so bad that you lose everything before you surrender. If run away, but you’ve already surrendered, get rid of the condemnation. God can use that period in your life for good, plus He can still use you for His purposes. Jonah led an entire city to God after he had run away. Your choices in the past haven’t negated God’s calling on your life. It’s time to move past your mistakes and start moving towards your calling.
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Do you ever feel like your faults, failures and past sins disqualify you from being used by God? Sometimes those voices that tell me those things get so overpowering that I start to believe it. My past comes back to remind me to stay grounded while God has called me to fly. They weigh me down like I’m attached to an anchor. They tell me, “Because you did this, God can never do that in your life.” It’s hard to hear anything else sometimes.
When those voices get too loud in my mind, there’s two verses I go back to. The first one is Psalm 65:3. It says, “Our faults defeat us, but you forgive them” (GNT). I use this verse to remind me that my past has been forgiven, and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. The voices that tell me what God can’t do are not from God. When He forgives, He forgets. He uses those faults and failures as my qualifications to do what He called me to do.
The other verse I go to is Romans 11:29. It says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still has a plan for your life. He still has a calling that only you can fulfill. He knew your future when He called you. He understood that you wouldn’t be able to live a perfect life so He built it into the plan for you. He doesn’t withdrawal His calling because of our past.
It’s easy to look at someone else and think, “They’re better qualified to do what I’m called to do,” but that’s not how God works. He created you with a purpose and a calling that only you can fulfill. It’s time to quit listening to the voices that tell us we can’t, and start listening to the only voice that matters. It’s not too late. You haven’t gone too far. God’s calling is still valid and you have work to do. Push out the voices that tell you why you can’t, and tell God, “Here am I. Use me.” God hasn’t withdrawn His calling or purpose for your life.
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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
My son loves to watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on my iPad. I think he loves Daniel Tiger so much because he sings songs that are easy for him to learn. My son started singing one of those songs recently when I was hanging a shelf in my room. He wanted to help, but the shelf was too heavy and too high for him so I asked him to sit on the bed and watch. He sang, “Everyone is big enough, big enough to do something.” I couldn’t help but laugh and said, “You’re right.” I handed him the screws to hold and had him pass me my level. He was big enough to help with that.
So many times in our lives we feel inadequate and under qualified. We take ourselves out of situations God has placed us in because we think we aren’t the right person for the job. We underestimate the value that we bring and we use that as an excuse to not do what God has called us to. Esther felt the same way. She was just a girl who won a beauty contest and became the king’s wife. She had no authority, no royal blood in her and was an orphan. She was the least qualified to stand before the king and get justice for her people.
Like anyone else in that situation, she made excuses as to why she couldn’t do God’s will. Her uncle, Mordecai, was unwilling to accept her excuses and sent her word that said, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) He understood that when God calls us to do something, He qualifies us to do it. He puts us right where He needs us in order to do what needs to be done. It’s not up to us to use how we got into that position as a disqualifier. It’s up to us to recognize why God has us where He does.
Each of us are qualified to do something for God. There are none of us who are perfect. None who are sinless. None who haven’t made huge mistakes we regret. God, in His mercy, doesn’t allow our past to keep us from doing His will. Instead, He embraces it and uses it to qualify us to carry out His will. What we think disqualifies us, God uses to qualify. What we think should keep us from helping Him is the very thing He wants to use. He uses the broken and scarred to help heal those with fresh wounds.
Don’t ever fall for the lie that you cannot be used by God because of something you’ve done. If you have been forgiven by God, then you are just the person God is looking for. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch. You can hold out your hands and let God use them to accomplish what He can only do through you. Who knows, perhaps you went through what you went through for such a time as this? He can use your scars to prove He heals open wounds. He can use your brokenness to show how He mends the broken-hearted. He can use you, no matter what.
Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash
Several years ago, I went through some very dark times in my life that I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. They left some very deep scars that I thought would never heal. Instead of going through a true healing process, I decided that it was best to treat that portion of my life as if it were a dream. I covered the wounds and vowed to never speak of them again. I thought that if I pretended it never happened, then I wouldn’t feel the pain of it. That seemed to work for a while until Dave Roever spoke at our church one Sunday.
Dave is a Vietnam veteran who had a phosphorus grenade blow up in his hand near his head as he was throwing it. He survived the explosion, but as a result of the explosion, he has a very disfigured face and hand. He told his story of his recovery and how God has used that terrible event to help him reach so many vets for Christ. Then he wrapped up his sermon by saying, “Don’t hide your scars. For in them, others will find their healing.”
I knew at that point it was time to unwrap my wounds to let them heal. I had to dig down inside, bring up all that hurt again to deal with it properly so God could use my story to help others find their healing. That’s how this site began actually. It was a way for me to process the hurt, but also a way for others to find their healing too. II Corinthians 1:4 says, “He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).
I don’t know the pain you’ve been through or are going through, but I do know that God has never left your side. He wants to help you heal your wounds so that He can bring others along side you who are going through something similar. He wants to use your scars to bring healing to others if you’re willing to let Him. Their situation may not be identical to yours, but the pain is the same and so is the healing process. Don’t hide your scars. Let God use them to help someone else who desperately needs your story.