If God can choose YOU. He can USE you.
It’s 5:30 am. I can’t sleep because this quote keeps running through my head.
Two weeks ago I got up in front of my church to help lead worship as I’ve done a handful of times for the past few months. I don’t have the best voice in the world but I have a decent ear for harmony and for the most part, can carry a tune. I’m up there not because I can sing well but because I love to sing and because, for whatever reason, I believe God asked me – chose me – to lead. The timing I felt led to join the worship team “happened” to be when two other leaders were both getting married and moving away, and when another leader was put on bed rest.
The night before I led this last time, I had had a nightmare that I couldn’t shake. In my dream, I had a leading role in a musical. It was just about my turn to come on stage but I couldn’t remember a single line. I tried looking up the words on my phone but my phone wouldn’t work. Then just as I was about to step up I found out my daughter and mom had both been injured. I noticed out of the corner of my eye my older sister, her husband and their boys standing there watching their niece/cousin perform. Then just as I was entering the stage, I woke up.
The dream felt so real. Thankfully our church has “confidence monitors” to display the words in case you forget them, but I still approached the stage (or in our case – a rug) with the same feelings I had had in my dream. Though I had prepared as well I could have, I didn’t feel prepared – which turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy (or perhaps a spiritual attack). Normally I sing background vocals with maybe a short solo here or there, but this time I was the main lead for two songs. My nerves led me to the bathroom 3 times that morning and caused my voice to be shaking and flat. It was the worst performance I’d ever had and I have the recording to prove it. And what’s worse, I strained my voice so badly that it left a lingering lump in my throat that is still troubling me.
I came home from church that day feeling incredibly discouraged and ready to call it quits. What am I doing up there? I can’t sing.
As quickly as that thought entered my mind, I heard, Who gave you your voice? It was the same question God asked Moses when Moses argued with the Lord trying to get out of his God-given assignment. Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue, Moses argued. Then God answered him and said, Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Ex.4)
Then I opened up my Jesus Calling devotional – as I tend to do only when I’m feeling discouraged or down – and read…
I am pleased with you, My child. Allow yourself to become fully aware of My pleasure shining upon you. You don’t have to perform well in order to receive My Love. In fact, a performance focus will pull you away from Me…This can be a subtle form of idolatry: worshipping your own works. It can also be a source of deep discouragement when your works don’t measure up to your expectations… (Jesus Calling, Nov. 22)
My mom also, totally out of blue texted me a verse from Isaiah 40:29. He gives power to the faint and to those who have to might he increases their strength.
Wow! I didn’t read either of these and suddenly feel convinced to press on, nor did I easily forget about my performance. I did, however, feel incredibly encouraged that the God of the universe was clearly speaking to ME, was proud of ME, and was using imperfect, flawed, ME.
A couple of days later I got the recording of the service. The discouragement that had faded over the past couple of days came flooding back as I listened to my voice under the microscope. Listening to your own recording is like daring to bring out the dusty scale and see how much you really weigh instead of believing you’re still somewhere around your old high-school weight. It’s humbling but it reveals the areas that need work.
There is a lot of work to do. But as I heard in a movie recently: Recognizing the problem is the first step in solving it. And the amazing thing is, as soon as I started to recognize my areas of weakness, God started providing the help I needed to solve it. He provided me with a new friend who also happens to be a vocal instructor and professional opera singing. She gave me some wonderful pointers that have already helped me re-discover my God-given voice.
The thing my friend helped me discover is that I’ve been trying to make my voice sound like someone else, rather than using the voice God gave to ME. Being someone we are not never works and somewhere down the road of envy, I had lost my true voice.
Yet I still wonder, how can God use MY voice? How can God use ME? I’m quiet, timid, and shy at times. I get social anxiety and have a crazy fear of public speaking or public anything. But this morning at 5:30 am God spoke to me and said, If I can choose YOU, I can USE you.
God reminded me that the same principle of how and why he choose ME to be His daughter is the same principle that applies to how He can also USE me.
God did not choose me because I had it all together. He said, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16) He chose me not because of anything good or beautiful that I’ve done. Ephesians 1:4 says He chose me even before the foundations of the world were laid. He also says in Ephesians 2 that it’s not my works that saved me but that I was created by Him to do good works, that He already set out for me to do even before I was born. Therefore, just as I had nothing to do with Him choosing me I also have nothing to do with Him using me. Because if He can choose ME… sinful, proud, insecure ME … then He can also USE me … quiet, weak, lacking in skills, imperfect ME – being called just like Moses not because of my strength and power but because of HIS.
I am scheduled again to sing this coming Sunday. The lump in my throat is still there. As I was practicing last night, I noticed that the lump was preventing me from using the forced voice I was trying to use and has helped me re-discover my true voice – a blessing in disguise perhaps.
God has given each of us unique passions, gifts, and talents. Talents that He wants us to use. Someone once told me if we don’t use them, we lose them. When we compare our talents to others’ and try to be someone we are not we are essentially throwing away our own God-given talent. But thankfully God is a God that specializes in bringing dead things back to life – even things like a lost voice.
I believe Satan wants to keep us snared by a focus on our performance and on a hyper-awareness of our weaknesses. He wants to keep in a constant state of comparison so that we continue to believe the lie that our talents and passions aren’t good enough or that God couldn’t possibly use us. If he can do that, he can keep God from being glorified through us and keep us from living the life we were created to live.
As my voice was put under the microscope this past week, I was reminded of the truth that the One who is most intricately and acutely aware of my weaknesses is the same One who also accepts, calls, and loves me the most. And if He can choose me – then He can and will use me.