Are you sure about this God?
I’ve been asking this question more often lately. It’s centered on the primary concept of “what do I have to offer? I mean… we’re speaking about God here… why would He need me?” After reflecting on words offered by the speakers at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week, I recall hearing one of the speakers express that “…we, as leaders, should be looking at individuals for the gifts they offer and their potential for growth.” For me, I’ve always associated the word “gifts” as something that was new… something clean and never used. After all, when I post something on Amazon to sell, they describe new condition as “brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included.” I don’t think this is what God had in mind… as a matter of fact, these readings have reinforced my shift in understanding of the word “gifts.” This was important to me so I could reconcile how it’s possible that the God of the universe would even consider using a man like me, who messes up more often I want to admit, for His purpose and His glory! We serve an amazing God who completely understands those He has designed and loves. Like any committed father, He understands that it is sometimes better for lessons to be learned by way of others who have been through very similar circumstances. It allows us to relate more closely with that individual and thus, we feel less alone. And in so doing, perhaps learn of the unconditional love of our Father in heaven.
The basis for 1 Corinthians 1 is understanding and the verses provide tangible example of God’s love for His people. Analyzing the kinds of people God used to get His message across had me see that God did/does not choose powerful individuals or great thinkers, but simple people who, by their very presence and quality of life, spoke volumes in their approach (Psalm 113:7-8). It is in the trials and lessons, both positive and negative, that God best judges what and who to us for His glory. Time and time again, we find Christ getting angry at the Pharisees because they made the letter of Scripture the study of their lives, and the poor and humble follower was repeatedly raised up, for having an open heart and faith like a child, to understand what God expected of us.
When we’re faced with dire circumstances, such as learning of a cancer diagnosis, our typical human response is “Why me?”… even questioning the existence of God. Even when we learn that we’ve overcome the cancer scare and others in the same situation don’t, the same question “Why me?” comes, causing us to question God’s motives and if God has abandoned someone else. But God never abandons us. Only the Christian faith, of all the world’s major religions, teaches that God came to Earth in human form as Christ and experienced life as a human, subject to suffering, to the point of death himself, to take the punishment of all our sins, so that someday he can return to Earth to end all suffering without ending us. We can’t possibly know the reason God allows random evil and suffering to continue, but I do now and will continue to believe that God knows and just because I don’t fully understand the reasons, doesn’t mean it isn’t for something wonderful that my limited human mind can’t see (or may never see!)! I do know it isn’t because He doesn’t love us or that He doesn’t care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness (Psalm 112:4), that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself. This Dad really loves His children, wouldn’t you agree?
Heavenly Father… thank you for using us in ways we can’t understand at times. Thank you for your Word that helps us to learning that you have your ways, but that your ways always point to the foundation of love. Please help us to be patient as our human nature wants to see results quicker than we’re to see them. But, as our Father, you know best… help us to have the faith of a child, who seeks You because we know, in our hearts, Your way is the best. Amen.
Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)