Three “random” events this week converged into one life lesson.
1) I listened to my pastor’s last sermon.
We met when I was a college freshman and he was an intern at our church. Now he’s retiring after 43 years as its pastor. I don’t think I was present for his first ever sermon, but I heard some of his earliest sermons while I was in college. Though I’ve seen him in person only a handful of times since I graduated, I have followed all his sermons through the progress of technology: print, cassette tapes, CDs and finally Mp3s.
And I just heard the last one. I feel like a bird who was just kicked out of the nest with no clue how to find the next meal.
2) My current pastor listened to me teach — in person. Talk about impostor syndrome! While he has been nothing but encouraging and supportive, seeing his face in the back row inspired a crushing wave of self-doubt. The nagging trash-talk voice in my head ran wild: “You just lost one of your mentors. Who am you to try to teach anybody anything?! What were you thinking?….”
The song reminded me what I know to be true: God uses impostors like me.
At times, we all think, “God couldn’t possibly use me.” And we always have a good reason: I’m too old/young. Or too extroverted/introverted. Or too talkative/quiet. Or too confident/insecure. Or I don’t have the right education/background/pedigree/social graces/conversion story, etc..
And we’re right. Left to ourselves apart from the grace of God, all of us are flawed, selfish and too “something”.
But God delights in taking sinful, selfish wretches like me, washing us clean in the blood of Christ and setting us on the path to glory. As if mercy, grace and forgiveness weren’t enough, He also gives us a role to play in furthering His kingdom.
If you are a believer, the question is not whether God will use you, it is how and where God will use you.
All we have to do is humbly trust and obey. Silence the inner voice of self-doubt and “follow the pattern of sound words.”
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 1:6-13 (emphasis mine)
By God’s grace, we can fly.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.