You do not need to be perfect for God to use you.
On the way to the gym last Monday, I had a phone conversation with a woman named Tiffany who is discerning her call to ministry. A friend asked if I would talk to her since we both were called out of the business world to serve the Lord in this unique way.
The timing of this conversation couldn’t have been better. Because in all my busyness with getting this church off the ground I seem to have forgotten why I answered my call in the first place.
It’s like I had forgotten my purpose because I was too focused on this idea that God has plan for me, and if I could only work a little harder or do a little bit more God might actually reveal that plan to me.
So far, that has not been the case. God has not shown me a plan or a set of blueprints. But God has shown me the Way. Revealing to me his presence in astounding ways.
The story was about a cracked pot. And it goes like this.
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:
‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes the water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’
The author of the devotional concluded the story with this affirmation, “Thankfully, God uses cracked pots! You do not need to be perfect for God to use you.”
Think about that statement. You don’t need to be perfect for God to use you. Whether you are chipped, cracked, or shattered into tiny pieces, God finds a way to use us for restorative purposes.
Both my conversation with Tiffany, and this story, helped me to remember my purpose – to proclaim God’s love and grace through my words and deeds. Am I perfect at it? Not at all. Do I fail often? More than I’d like. Does it stop me from trying? No.
I don’t need to be perfect for God to use me. And neither do you. Your story, your scars, and all your imperfections and misdeeds, are all the ways God uses us to tell Jesus’ story of overwhelming love and saving grace. This is why it’s called the good news. And why we were called to proclaim it to every corner of the world.
Easier said than done when you have a seminary degree.
Consider the man who was born blind in John’s gospel. The disciples asked Jesus, 'Was this man born blind because of his own sins or his parents' sins?' Jesus answered, “Neither. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."
When the Pharisees asked the man about who healed him, the man said this about Jesus, "He is a prophet! If this man were not from God, he couldn't have done it."
Before Jesus came into his life, the blind man had his story that came with all the usual stigma’s attached to being born that way. After Jesus did what he did, the man’s story becomes God’s testimony.
His eyes are open to the truth and he becomes a living witness to God’s power in the world. Because of Jesus, this man was able to see God do some truly amazing things. He didn’t understand how it happened but was happily surprised that it did happen. And he shared that joy with everyone.
I am constantly surprised by the way God loves me. And in spite of my brokenness, God still finds a way to make me a part of his service and plan. From Moses, to David, to Mary, and Peter, to you and me, God takes our weaknesses and makes them our strengths.
In his second letter to the Churches in Corinth, Paul writes,
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take this [thorn in my flesh] away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The Apostle takes pleasure in his weakness and brokenness because he knows this is where God is most active in his life. And wherever God is active in your life, you too can rest assured that you can do anything God has called you to do. You don’t need to be perfect. Just faithful.
Like the water-bearer, God is planting seeds along the paths we walk, and God is enjoying the beauty that our flaws help to create. Yet we have to walk the walk, do what we are called to do!
Through Jesus Christ we receive all the grace we need to make us strong enough to overcome insults and hardships and the personal attacks on our faith that chip away at our core and cause us to crack in the first place.
In following Christ we not only find our strength, but learn also how to use it for the good of God’s kingdom and our communities. By our words and deeds we proclaim the good news that heals and restores.
So don’t worry if your faith is all dinged up or you have a low Bible IQ, God can and will use you in the most amazing and creative ways. The bible is filled with examples of ordinary people like us, who did some extraordinary things that led people back to God’s welcoming heart – the very heart of everlasting love where your story began.
Perhaps your purpose isn’t to be a preacher or a pastor. Maybe it’s just being a good friend, a faithful spouse, or a compassionate human who seeks to do some good in the world. God will use you.
Maybe you’re being called to get involved in local issues; making sure there’s justice and fairness imbedded in your community. Look around your neighborhood and ask God where you can be of service. Then step out in faith, knowing God is your strength.
Maybe your call is to support a particular mission, like this one, which reaches people who’d never step foot in a church. With so much hurt in the world, there is still more work to be done. And the people who have been called to do that work need more than just your thoughts and prayers.
We’ve been given the story of Jesus, the healing balm that brings relief to those who are suffering. And we are called to share it so eyes can be open and hearts can be healed.
There are many ways God uses us to proclaim gospel of Jesus Christ. And as St. Francis of Assisi taught, if you have to use words to do so, well then, the more the better.