Bring It All
Scripture is always encouraging us to never count out the underdog. It’s clear God has a soft spot for the little guys and outsiders, the nobodies and reprobates. In fact, the more unlikely a character is, well… keep your eye on that one. While the world is looking for the next GOAT, God’s off in some obscure corner of the world looking for the losers and the left behind to bring his kingdom to and through.
Gideon. Rahab. David. Jonah. Even Jesus, the son of God himself, shows up with nothing “beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
Paul says it most clearly when he tells us his strength is in his weakness (2 Cor 12:10) and that God chooses the foolish and weak things of the world to “confound the wise.” (1 Cor 1:27)
We love these stories, but we subconsciously resist them, too. In a world that celebrates the survival of the fittest, our preference for strength and impressiveness shows up when we interpret the spirit of these scriptures as saying something like, “God uses us in spite of our limitations and weakness.”
But that’s not exactly right, is it? It seems God chooses people precisely for their underdog appeal, which would mean that God uses us not in spite of but actually because of our limitations and weakness.
As a kid with a stutter, it was complicated when I began to sense God’s calling on my life. How could I, with a speech impediment, be a spokesperson for God?
Early on I thought maybe God’s plan was for me to step out in faith to do this thing I felt unqualified to do. He would surely reward my faith by healing me, and then that would be my testimony—"trust God and you will be healed!” Clearly this had to be God’s plan, right?
Thus began several years of trying to muster up enough faith to be worthy of God's healing.. When it wasn’t happening, I assumed it was because I wasn’t believing hard enough or because of sin in my life.. So, I kept trying—harder and harder—until eventually until my spirit broke and I was too exhausted to stay on the shame/try harder treadmill of low-level religion.
I was playing a show at my local coffee shop one night and stuttered horribly through the whole set—just another failed attempt to get God to give me the healing I believed could be mine if I could just get my act together.
When I finished my last song, I felt ashamed for how awkward my stuttering must have made everyone feel and I just wanted to hide. As people lined up to talk with me afterwards, I remember feeling too embarrassed to look them in the eye. My face felt hot.
But one after another I heard variations of the same story: “Thank you for standing up there and reminding me that I'm not defined by my limitations.” Or “Jason, thanks for what you did tonight. I believe God has called me to do something, too, and I’ve been telling him he has the wrong person for the job. But if you can do what you do, maybe I can do my thing, too.”
On my drive home, a new hope was coming alive in my heart: “Maybe God didn’t intend to heal me of my speech impediment, but instead wanted to bring healing to others through it.”
I began to see how what I thought were weak and useless things about myself were actually what God was looking for all along.
This is true of other things I’m tempted to put in the “worthless” category, like the fact that I’m an insecure people pleaser—something I’ve beat myself up about for most of my life.
But just like my speech impediment, I find an unexpected gift in it when I offer it to God.
As a performer who stands before a crowd, the gift of being an insecure people pleaser is that I really, really want people to like me. Because of that, I’m emotionally tuned into the room—aware of the slightest indicators that I’m losing people’s attention. It’s a powerful tool that helps me know when to adjust what I’m doing, like switching up the songs, throwing in a joke, or doing whatever it takes to draw the audience back in.
This makes me better at my job, because if I were more “whole” I wouldn’t care what others think and would just do whatever I wanted. But I guess you could say that I have just enough insecurity and people pleasing in me to be effective at what God has given me to do.
It’s obvious that it’s good to offer our strengths to God, but what if we did the same with our weaknesses? We might discover that they are a crucial piece of the puzzle of who God has made us to be to do what he’s given us to do.
Revelation 12:10 says that Satan accuses us day and night, and we can often be his accomplice as we beat ourselves up over all the things we don’t like about ourselves. But when we see that our imperfections are a part of the bigger picture of how God is making us his handiwork, we can be done with all that and give ourselves more fully to the good work that “God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)