For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in my local church. I was a leader in my youth group. I was a Sunday school teacher. I led adult Bible studies and small groups. I led men’s groups. One of the gifts that I have always known that God gave me is the gift of teaching. My writing informs that.
Much as my writing has been dormant for many years, my teaching has been as well. Prior to recovery, I couldn’t take a lot of joy out of the gift God gave me for His own glory because I felt unworthy. I knew I wasn’t being honest with God. I was keeping part of myself from Him, from my wife, from my family. So…I stopped. I stopped using the gifts He gave me because I felt unworthy. I felt disqualified.
I have for so long looked for reasons to avoid my local church. Now, I long for and crave the Biblical instruction. This week, my pastor spoke through the audience of a couple thousand to speak to me directly. I didn’t even see it coming.
He opened his sermon with Romans 11:29 – “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Huh. Ok, I didn’t know that. He then zeroed in. On me. Or it felt like it was just me. He started talking about being disqualified. About the things that disqualify you from occupations, or society, or being able to vote, or being a member of an organization. How it felt to be disqualified, excluded, kicked out. Exactly how I felt. Unworthy to serve God.
He reminded me that I am not here to please other people. That isn’t my purpose. In fact, if I was worried about the judgment or opinion or esteem of others, I was defying God. If I wasn’t using the gifts and telling the story He gave me, then I wasn’t paying attention to scripture. Wait, what?
Yeah, Galatians 1:10 kinda nailed me on this one. In it, Paul writes: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Sometimes Paul ticks me off. So does my pastor. Really, so does God. I am running out of ways to fail Him. I keep disqualifying myself from His service. From being worthy of being of use to Him. But…that’s my flesh talking, not God. I am not disqualified. I am qualified…because I belong to God. Really, my story does. So do my gifts.
Hear me out. God has given me some gifts. I know they don’t come from me so they most definitely come from Him. In my sin, in my addiction, those gifts have stagnated from lack of use. And I have justified that lack of use as my sin deeming me disqualified. Only, that isn’t what God says in His word. Quite the opposite. He tells us that His gifts and His call are irrevocable. Not dependent on being “good enough.” Irrevocable.
God has given me gifts. I can write some. I can teach a little. I feel in His will when I do both for His purpose. Me not using those gifts, not telling the story He has given me through the gifts he has given me…basically, my call…then I am glorifying Him. I am not fulfilling the purpose He gave me. So I guess I am qualified. How about that.