When I became a Christian at age 17 and started hearing that God could use a person like me, I thought, How? I don’t really have any skills to offer God. My aspiration up to that point in life was to be a graphic artist, specifically a cartoonist. That is how I spent most of my time in school – drawing when I should have been studying. (I did get A’s in art.)
Back in those days, in the early days of the Jesus Movement, a lot of Christian bands were forming. One night, I was at a Bible study where there were some talented musicians. One guy was playing a guitar and another was playing the flute. We all were singing along, and I started using the tabletop for a drum. Then someone said, “Let’s form a band.” And we actually came up with a name for the band. So we went to Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and said, “We have a Christian band. Can we play tonight?”
Unbelievably, they said, “Sure.”
There we were, playing at Calvary Chapel. The guitarist was playing and singing, the flutist was playing, and I was hitting a conga drum (which had replaced the tabletop) out of rhythm. Meanwhile, a thought was running through my head: I don’t think this is my calling.
Sometimes finding out what you are called to do starts with first finding out what you are not called to do. I recognized that I wasn’t gifted in the area of percussion, but I could draw cartoons. I had drawn up a little tract based on John 4 and showed it to Pastor Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel, and he liked it. So it was printed up. When the first printing ran out, more were produced. And when all was said and done, there were several million in circulation. So I thought, This is what I am going to do. I will be a graphic designer for God. This is great.
But God had something else in mind. The very thing I was deathly afraid of doing – public speaking – is exactly what God called me to do. God called me to preach. And the next thing I knew, God was using me in that way.
God wants to use you, too. We are not all called to be public speakers. We are not all called to be musicians. We are not all called to do the same thing. But we are all called to do something.
Maybe you don’t see your potential, but God does. We see ourselves for what we are in the moment, but God sees us for what we will be in the days ahead.
When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses came up with a litany of excuses as to why God could not use him.
First, he effectively said that he didn’t deserve to be used by God: “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NLT)
He did have a point. Who was he? It seems as though God always goes out of his way to choose the most unlikely candidates. Jonah hated the very people God called him to go and preach to. When we are first introduced to Gideon in the Bible, he seems to be afraid of his own shadow. Yet God saw him for what he could become.
God was saying, “Who are you, Moses? You are an instrument. I am the one who will use you for my glory.”
The second excuse Moses offered was that he didn’t have all of the answers: “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” (verse 13)
Sometimes we are afraid to talk about our faith because we fear that someone might ask a hard question. But that hard question will just drive us back to the Scriptures. God says of his word: “It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV).
Then Moses said the people wouldn’t believe him. So God said, “What is that in your hand?”
“A rod,” Moses said.
“Cast it on the ground.”
So Moses did, and it turned into a snake. Then God told him to reach out and take the snake by the tail, and when Moses did so, it turned into a rod again. First of all, you never pick up a snake by the tail. As long as you have a snake by the neck, right behind the head, you are OK. But if you grab a snake by the tail, he can turn and bite you. This was a step of faith on Moses’ part, but he took it. God was calling him to face his fears.
Next Moses said that he wasn’t a good speaker: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). God doesn’t need good speakers; he needs obedient servants. I don’t consider myself a great preacher, but I do have a great message. Thus, when I step into a pulpit, I preach with confidence – not self-confidence, but confidence in the truth of what I am saying.
Finally, Moses said, “Lord, please! Send anyone else” (Exodus 4:13 NLT). This angered God. So God condescended to the request of Moses and allowed his brother Aaron to be the spokesman.
The Bible says, “It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17). You may not feel qualified. But really, who is? God likes to use people who don’t think they are worthy. God likes to use people who don’t think they could ever be used by God. God likes to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways so that he gets the glory.
God has gifts that he has instilled in you. God wants to use you. God has a place for you. The question is, are you available? Are you willing to take a step of faith?