Last week, theBean & I went to Cannon Beach OR for the Compassion First Pastor Retreat with about 25 or so other pastoral couples… it’s an event we’ve attended the last 3 years, & each time we’ve been refreshed, encouraged, & revitalized by our time together – just the two of us. We also greatly enjoyed our time with others who have the Compassion First fam in common, & our time hearing from some incredible men & women. This year’s main speakers were Jo Anne Lyon – President Emeritus of the Wesleyan Church, & Randy Remington, President of the Foursquare Church. All that to set the stage for the context in which I heard God speak to me in an answer to prayer just about an hour after I prayed it.
Sometime in the early morning of the 2nd day there, I was journaling through a series of partially formed thoughts, mental pictures, & hints (allegations?) of ugliness within… feelings of inadequacy & insufficiency. Feelings that seemed like the beginnings of temptation to be jealous of Others, to engage in negative self-comparison to Others; a general dissatisfaction & lack of contentedness that wanted to take up a more permanent space in my heart, mind, & life. There were (are) no specific OTHERS that come to mind when I’m hit with those feelings; just a general sense that somehow, someway, something vital was handed out to everyone but me, & I missed out because I’d stepped out of the room when it was distributed. Nebulous, I know, but I think it paints the picture. You might have experienced something like it in your own journey; I haven’t had this pointed & strong a set of ‘those feelings & thoughts’ for quite a while.
So I journaled about it – & my prayer was “I don’t want to give time or space to this, Lord. Create in me a clean heart & renew a right spirit in me. Whatever this is, wherever it is coming from, I don’t want it. But I DO want to know what you have to say about this. And me.”
And so theBean & I went to the gathering.
JoAnne Lyon spoke that morning on something – what I heard her address was inadequacy & how silly it is when it comes to God working in & through us. He doesn’t NEED us to be ADEQUATE; He wants us to be AVAILABLE. She spoke from Exodus 4, where Moses is disqualifying himself from God’s call for him to go to Egypt for the express purpose of calling on Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. 430 years & countless generations of slavery. Moses tells God, “they won’t believe me or listen to me because…”
And God says to Moses, “What do you have in your hand?”
If you read the story, you know Moses had in his hand a shepherd’s staff, the tools of his trade for the previous 40 years, something not special, yet useful in the hands of one who knows what to do with it. With sheep.
And yet God chooses to use the staff of Moses BECAUSE IT WAS HANDY. He could have used anything, but He chose to use what Moses had in his hand.
It wasn’t Moses’ skill, leadership, or general awesomeness that caused God to call Him; it was his availability. And God chose to use what he had in his hand to start the deliverance process in Egypt for ALL the Israelites… with God getting all the glory & honor & praise in the middle of it.
She had me at “What do you have in your hand?”
It was like God Himself was speaking directly to me, answering the questions & prayers I’d written down less than 60 short minutes before. And He was reassuring me of my place with Him; the inadequacy & insecurity melted away. The images & thoughts & worries were exposed for the shadows they were, & the bright light banished them back to the shadows from whence they’d come.
I knew. My job, my purpose is to be available, & God will use what He chooses… maybe what I happen to have in my hand at the time.
Freedom. Peace. Thankfulness. Thank you Jesus.
He’s working for my good, & for His glory. Booyah.
Over the last week I’ve been reflecting a bit on this experience & while I don’t necessarily have anything figured out, I do know that the temptation to compare myself to Anyone is a dark abyss of trouble; to worry about my inadequacy steps into fear & casts doubt on God’s abilities to do the miraculous in whatever way – through whoever – He wants to.
I don’t want to worry too much about “me.” What people are going to think of “me” or how I’ll stack up in a crowd of others.
I do want to live in such a way that I continue to DECREASE & Jesus continues to INCREASE.