For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
I think one of the reasons I love the Bible so much is that every time I pick it up, I am reminded that God chooses people based on their hearts and their belief and trust in Him, rather than their accomplishments or perfection. I am encouraged by the hundreds of stories of men and women who were human, who had insecurities, who failed, who struggled with sin and with faith, and were still used mightily by God.
Paul was a murderer; he actively persecuted Christians, simply because they believed Jesus was the Messiah. And yet God hand-picked Paul, came to Him in an open vision that left him blinded, healed him miraculously, and then used him to build the foundations of the church.
An Indian missionary that I worked closely with, before she was taken to Glory, was like Paul in many ways. Ambika was the Hindu priestess in her low caste village; she was revered by the people. She persecuted the villagers who began to believe in Jesus when they heard the Gospel.
One day, her husband left her because she had not borne him any children. Around the same time, she was involved in an accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She was unable to afford a wheel chair, so in order to move around she was forced to drag her body around with her arms. Then her cow was stolen and she lost her primary source of income.
The people decided that her gods were punishing her for hidden sins and one by one they abandoned her, rejecting her so the misfortune wouldn’t ‘rub off’ on them. My husband and his brother were the only two who would talk to her, offer her help, and share with her the grace of Jesus. She was very mistrusting, not understanding why they kept showing her love. Eventually, she broke down and opened her heart to what God had planned for her; God completely healed her body and she became a missionary to the villages in her area.
When I came to know her, even in her old age, she was unstoppable. She would tell me all the time, ‘I spent so long fighting God, trying to turn people away from His mercy and forgiveness. If I can’t go to at least one village each day, I feel like I can’t live anymore. ‘
Like Paul, like Ambika, I know my unworthiness. I know the failings of my past and the struggles of my present. I know what sins I have committed, and yet Christ still chose me. He still called me to work for His Kingdom and to share the Good News. He moves in me and through me to convey His Truth, His love, His grace. He is in me, and I am in Him.
Yesappa, Thank You again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.