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The Luxury of Feeling Fit for Service

Posted Jun 13 2008 5:04pm

Once upon a time in my walk, I postponed a lot of acts of service because of my “unworthy” state. I didn’t feel competent to teach, for example, because of the mess I’d made in my personal life. So, I flat out ignored the promptings of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. He would lead for me to speak to this person or that about something and I’d react with “oh yeah, RIGHT. They are going to say ‘How dare you when all you do is drown your depression with your favorite lime-enhanced beverage!’ ”

Yeah, I argued a LOT with the Holy Spirit when I was self-medicating.

Thing is, that is a bad habit. And it’s very hard to break. Both the “Yeah Right” attitude and the feeling of unworthiness stops me from doing a lot of things that I am prompted to do by His grace. This bad habit is rooted in my own assessment of who I am. For example, when I was prompted to stay late and clean up after a crowded MOPS meeting, I had no trouble obeying because I see myself fit for washing dishes and rearranging chairs. Picking up trash? I’m your girl! I can totally do those types of tasks without hesitation because (I suppose) being the lowly trash girl used to fit right into my view of myself as being the lowest wig-worm in the dirt. But when He called me (by my full name–because He was and IS serious about this one) and said to me, “You will teach,” I immediately thought of a thousand reasons why He was off His Almighty rocker.

I apologize for how irreverent that sounds, I’m just being real here. I was ignorant of the Word (and still consider myself to be so…the more I know, the more I know I need to learn). I am a horribly awkward public speaker. That said, I overcompensate with excruciating planning, but then I can NEARLY NEVER follow my well-planned notes. I hear myself say things during teaching (or sometimes I will type an entire paragraph) and then I realize…HEY…I’VE NEVER THOUGHT THAT BEFORE. How’d THAT one get in there??? My voice is flat (as in, nothing remotely melodic about it), doesn’t carry and sometimes just hangs in my throat. I have a very strange sense of humor that I have come to realize not many people “get.” What if a joke comes out the wrong way?

That filter between brain and mouth? Mine is seriously impaired.

And those are just the objections I can list off for speaking the Word in public! What of my inability to conquer the frustrated blow-up? The inconsistency in my spiritual life? The fact that I can write it or say it but often I am not walking it out as well as I could?

There was another guy, called by God, who I believe can relate:

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:4-8 (emphasis mine)

Let me make something perfectly clear: God sent John. And His directive was to prepare the way, to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins: a task very close to the heart of the Father. Throughout the entire Old Testament, we see God consistently sending one to call others to repentance or deliverance. His prophets would speak to individuals (King David, the Pharaoh in Egypt), entire cities (Jonah was sent to Nineveh), and entire nations (the Israelites were called to repent REPEATEDLY). His word says that He wishes none to perish but all to come to repentance. So what John was called to do was a HUGE THING. An eternally important task.

But we see here that John didn’t have the luxury of feeling up to that task. In those times, a disciple of a rabbi would often perform various daily/mundane tasks for his teacher. But even so, untying the sandals…or I’m guessing anything having to do with the feet…was still a task reserved for a lowly slave. The disciple was not asked to perform something that “beneath” him. John says, “I am not worthy to even do that.” I am not sufficient enough, is how that could read. I am not, John would say today, fit for even the lowest forms of service. (As if there is a hierarchy of service to God…There’s not! But I can’t get into that today!)

John goes on to describe his service in relative terms to what Christ would perform. He says (in Jen paraphrase): Look, repentance is extremely important, but I still am only baptizing you with water. Watch for the One who will baptize you in the Spirit, because THEN (and only then) you will see One WORTHY of His calling.

So I guess I could say that I am in good company when I feel unworthy. Unfit. But something I’ve noticed since I started stepping out in obedience…God is slowly increasing the audience He brings. Years ago, I taught a few kids. Then a few more teenagers. Later He brought me to the point where I was teaching a handful of women in a recovery group. Now He’s brought me to a group on Wednesday night. Slowly, I’m being pulled out of my objections and into the Walk He planned for me. It’s kind of cool, actually, to see Him working this out (despite me). Cooler still to receive confirmation that I did indeed “bring it” the in way that the audience He gave was able to receive.

Still, every now and again I get to a cliff hanger and I tremble. Not because He hasn’t proven Himself faithful. Not even because I tend to get myself good and confused about what He is saying to me quite often. (Truly, I have looked at my options and thought: Nineveh? or the belly of a fish? Knowing good and well that ON MY OWN, both of those options are equally bad.) It’s because of this misconception that I should somehow feel comfortable with it all, that I should feel adequate and sufficient. This is why I am a reluctant obedient. But I will eventually come around. I may never feel worthy. I hope I don’t actually, because I know myself and the minute I begin to feel worthy to do the things God wants me to do is the minute I stop depending on Him to get me through them. I’m trying to embrace this lack of sufficiency…rather than run from it. I’m trying to adopt the mentality that says “Hey, this is NOTHING compared to what Christ will bring you.” I’m desperate for the “He must increase, I must decrease” point of view.

Imagine how well He can use me then?

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