But Lord...I'm a NOBODY!
Getting Over Excuses to be God's Everyday Ministry Tool
"But...Lord! I'm a NOBODY! I'm uneducated--a Jane Doe! They won't listen to me. And if they do, they'll laugh and say, 'Oh, you're still wet behind the ears!'"
Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy many times restrains and over powers our attempts at ministering to others. As laypersons, we feel that God could use others He has called--ministers, missionaries, Christian educators--far more effectively than He could ourselves.
Though there may be partial truths to our excuses of insignificance, we cannot view ourselves as the world does. While the world questions our credentials, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Our Father has called every committed believer, whether genius or run-of-the-mill, to follow Christ..."Take up your cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).
A Unique Cross to Bear
My cross has certainly been unusual. As an equine riding instructor, I have taught horse crazy kids the basics of horsemanship and the foundations of riding and carting. The Lord turned each lesson into a form of ministry. My "tools" consisted of three pudgy ponies and a couple of full size Quarter Horses. The barn might appear an unorthodox setting for integrating Biblical truths but God frequently sent children who had never heard of their Creator.
"Do you know Who made the horse, Suzy?"
Straining silence...wonderment...finally, "I don't know."
When it was evident that God desired to make my riding lessons open to ministering to these students, I was fearful of "muffing" the experience by my youthful floundering and my "all thumbs" attempts at witnessing. At the time, my comfort exceeded His purposes and others' eternity. God provided a vision of these precious children marching to Hell eternally lost. Through this vision, I grasped the value of these limited moments I had with my students. God could use their childish infatuation for animals as a way to personally reach them and their families.
In Jeremiah 1 we find God calling Jeremiah to be His Messenger to the Israelites. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto nations." As humans we might think, Jeremiah would have been flattered and thrilled. Jeremiah's response: "...Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child." Instead of exaltation, this prophet had pleading excuses of personal insufficiency. The text continues, "But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. The Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth" (Jeremiah 1:4-9).
Jeremiah's calling unto God's work is a beautiful example of how our Heavenly Father calls us. He goes beyond what we might feel or think about the situation. He touches our mouths, supplying us with His words when we cannot speak. In our humble voids of weakness and incapacity, God has strongholds to recreate us in His strengths and all sufficiency (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Psalm 8:2). "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Strategic Moments for Ministry
My riding students eyed horses as magnificent, mysterious giants to master. They loved to pepper me with questions about the horse's form and function. For some reason the horse's hooves fascinate almost every child between the ages of two to ten. The hoof pick is the first tool they chose out of the grooming box. As I guided their cleaning efforts, hoof-in-hand, the same questions arose:
"What's that thing?"
"What thing? Oh...that's Tobie's frog."
"What does it do?"
"When God created horses, He made the frog to help cushion the foot. The frog also provides traction when Tobie runs so he won't slip."
"What's this hard skin spot on his leg?"
Always interested with this scaly, oval growth located on the inside of each equine leg, the child continues,
"Why is it there?"
"It's like Tobie's fingerprint. Each chestnut has an individual pattern similar to your fingerprint. Some horse registries use chestnuts as a form of identification. Though we're still wondering at God's complete design of the chestnut, we think it's a scent gland too. Would you believe that some people think the chestnut was once another toe?!"
The eyes widen with amazement.
"Yes! These people, called evolutionists, think horses grew from a five toed, rabbit sized creature. Isn't that ridiculous?"
Astonished nods of agreement...
"They refuse to believe that God specially created Tobie and other animals for His pleasure."
This is an example of how I use my "tools" as funnels of introduction to the Creator. These children are mystified and eager to know more of this God who made the horse so amazing. Their inquisitive comments provided me with a chance to mention:
- God is the Creator
- Horses were created
- Horses are specially and thoughtfully designed
- God created animals for His pleasure
- Evolutionists do not believe in God
- Evolutionists have wild ideas on horse toes
At the barn other favorable times occur to share more Good News. While saddling up or riding our horses, sometimes the children will relate a troubling event at school, a sibling disagreement or excerpts from some horror movie they watched with Grandma. These have been open opportunities for me to share a choice word of encouragement in Christian character and love for their brother or sister.
For the nine year old youngster fed on graphic horror movies, the Lord gave the idea of telling her Bible stories. She loved them and begged, "More scary Bible stories!" Noah's Flood and Daniel in the Lion's Den captivated her attention. It seemed like Tobie, the ever faithful lesson pony, had been swallowed by the Whale in Jonah's story! Our stories gradually came to Christ: His love, His sacrifice and His salvation for believers. Across the back of a fat little pony, this child had heard of Christ and had developed a desire to become a Christian. Seeds had been planted for the season. (Click here to this testimony)
My task was accomplished soon after this session. A faithful, long term student was no longer able to make lessons. Thinking back, I marvel at our Strategist God!
Little opportunities of ministry are subtle but effective. Often God does not require us to slap people with doctrine or plunge into a deep discussion of profound wisdom. Our Creator delights in meeting people personally in their interests, their joys, and their trials. By following the Lord's lead with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), we're sure to stay on the right track. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)."
Personal Application: Boil It Down
Your everyday responses to the unpleasantness of circumstances can be the ticket someone needs to get on board with Christ. People watch how you react at home and in your work surroundings. They zoom into the way you as a Christian treat those around you. Declaring, "I'm a Christian," illuminates you as a walking beacon of "a redemptive work in Christ" or "just another religious freak."
God's call for you may entitle sowing tiny seeds of righteousness. Remember Christ's parable of the mustard seed? The mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds, grew into tree-like grandeur (Matthew 13:31-32). But as with every seed, someone had to plant it first! God can turn the smallest deed into a bountiful harvest for His kingdom.
Learning to integrate your work into God's established work, takes practice and steady focus on His purpose for your life. God gives everyday opportunities to interweave His message into routine daily tasks. If you miss one, He'll faithfully provide you with another chance. For today His "calling" for you could be this simple:
- Kindly assisting your children in their studies.
- Opening a door for a tired comrade.
- Smiling and offering words of encouragement to a brother or sister.
- Answering the aggravating telephone with politeness.
- Marveling over your horse's creative design at the vet office.
- Donating Christian creation resources to the library.
- Teaching a kid's class on the Creation week.
Being insignificant in society may mean you are of great significance in God's strategy for winning souls. By a personal witness, you can share God's message to someone who has never heard before. Allow God to recreate your feebleness into His strengths. He promises to touch our speechless mouths with His Words.
Take cheer, John and Jane Doe! You're God's powerful components for spreading the Words of Life to a spiritually dying civilization. Now get busy!