Oct 082019 1 Response

What You Want Least, God Wants Most

“I’m glad I don’t have to follow this.” Those were my thoughts as I stood backstage. Technically, I did have to “follow this.” I was the emcee at an event so I would be the next on the stage, but I would only be there to introduce the keynote speaker. She would be responsible for speaking for the thirty minutes following the current speaker. I didn’t envy her task.

As a speaker, there are two types you don’t want to follow–someone who totally bombs or someone who drops the mic with a powerful speech. This was the latter. As the woman spoke and the crowd wept with her, I was just thankful I didn’t have to follow her. (See: Sometimes You Are Your Past)

The speech was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen on stage. With vulnerability and transparency, she didn’t just admit her greatest shame, but slowly walked the crowd through her story. She cried; we cried. And as the speech ended the room fell dead silent, followed by a standing ovation, followed by silence.

What the speaker did is our greatest fear. Imagine telling a room full of 500 people about your greatest shame.

Yet, what she did is what God wants all of us to do.

It may not be God’s desire for everyone to give a speech to a crowded room, but it is His desire for us to allow him to use even our greatest shame for His Glory.

What Is Off-Limits?

Few people would refuse to be used by God to encourage another person. We desire to make a difference. However, we assume that God will use our successes and strengths to help others. We want to flaunt what we get right and hide what we get wrong.

Yet, God most often works in the reverse. While we should glorify God with our strengths, we shouldn’t be surprised when He chooses to use our weaknesses. Our strengths most often cause others to envy us, but our weaknesses are areas in which others can identify with us. The former might bring glory to us, but the latter is far more likely to bring glory to God.

When we take our failures and struggles, allow God to work on those places, and then allow Him to work through those places, we can make a great difference in the lives of others.

However, in the very places where God is most likely to use us, we are most likely to make those places off-limits to God.  We often refuse to allow God to work on our greatest pains and/or our greatest shame.

Why? (See: Only Tell Your Problems to Two People)

It’s because for God to use those issues we have to experience some semblance of healing. The power isn’t in the pain, it’s in God working through that pain. By itself, our shame does nothing, but when God heals our shame, transformation for others can happen.

But healing requires confession, confrontation, a willingness to get help, a process, and an ability to tell others what we have been through. Most of us are not willing to take even the first step. Rather than dealing with what has happened in our lives, we attempt to live in denial. Our points of pain and shame are off-limits to us, others, and God.

Embrace, Don’t Avoid

We must embrace every element of our story. This doesn’t mean we celebrate our mistakes or brag about our indiscretions. But it does mean we step out of denial and into reality when it comes to things we have done, what has happened to us, and every element which makes up who we are.

Where we are strong or successful, we must give God the glory. Where we are weak or have made mistakes, we must allow God to heal us. This doesn’t happen in a moment. It’s a process. We admit our need, confess our inability, and allow God’s love to change our heart. This demands a healthy community, a process of self-discovery, and the learning of new thought processes and skills.

As we begin to walk the path of healing, we can begin to tell the story. It’s not a story about what we are doing, but a story about what God is doing in us. We tell of his goodness, mercy, and grace. We invite others into the light to avoid the mistakes we have made and to emulate our transparency. By telling our story, we provide hope and a pathway for those who have similar experiences or struggles.

What God Uses

There is something a mature follower of Jesus knows that others do not. Having walked with Jesus for some time, a mature believer understands a key pattern. God most often uses our greatest pain and our greatest shame for His glory.

The two most sensitive spots in our lives from which we want to distract attention, God wants to shine a light. First, he wants to shine a doctor’s light on it so he can begin to heal those areas. Then he wants to shine a spotlight on it so that others can benefit from our experiences. While we are tempted to live in denial, God calls us to the truth. (See: One Thing God Will Never Say)

Mature believers understand this and begin to lean into the places of pain and shame. And we invite others to do the same. Many ignore the invitation, but some are so weary, so defeated, and so intrigued by the story of God’s love that they will take the courageous step and seek help.

What is your greatest pain? What is your greatest shame? Are you willing to allow God to work in and then use those areas for your good and His glory?

Galatians 1.24, “And they glorified God because of me.”

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