When I think about the giants of the Bible, I never consider that they might react the way I would to being called into hard situations.
In ladies’ Bible study, we’ve been studying the book of Exodus over the course of the fall and winter. One particular passage in Exodus made me burst out laughing, particularly this verse:
“But he said, ‘Oh my Lord, please send someone else’” (Exodus 4:13).
I could get behind this guy’s logic.
I read in the New Testament about the calling of the disciples, how often it seems the story simply says that they did as Jesus asked and left everything to follow him.
And I think, Ummm…what? No questions? Just like that?
When we read this passage, I had only been in London a month or two. I felt gripped with homesickness, hamstrung by my sin, and ineffective to preach the gospel to myself, much less be effective in introducing others to Christ.
So, yeah, I had Moses’ back on that. Send someone else, Lord.
The tasks seemed too big, and my view of God’s ability too small. I was half-jokingly, half-seriously considering having my prayer cards reprinted, replacing the current verse with this one.
But I’m realizing that, far from disqualifying me from ministry, this feeling of inadequacy is a starting point.
One of Serge’s core values is ministry through weakness.
When I applied to work here in London, when I was assessed and approved to come, when I was funded and finally sent out, I heard “ministry through weakness,” nodded my head, and continued along without really understanding.
It’s not that I deliberately misunderstood it — my mind simply took in the information, thought, “that checks out,” and filed it away.
There were so many other things to think about until my weakness was all I could think about.
Why, Lord, can’t I just be happy to be here?
Father, you tell me that I’m a beloved child of yours—why then do I feel so unloved?
Where are you in all this?
How could you possibly use me to spread the Gospel?
I’m not sure how much I believe it right now.
Was this your plan?
Did you intend to bring me here to break me? Because if you have, you’ve succeeded.
These aren’t random recollections — I literally wrote each of these in my prayer journal over the course of the first three months here in London.
Each was written with tears of anger standing in my eyes, written in my own heart’s blood.
I had been told, you see, that God wanted to use my weakness to minister to others and to change me. It was around this time that he started to gather flesh around those promises and bring them to life before my eyes.
One incident that comes to mind is a particularly difficult day at apprentice class.
Each Thursday, all of the apprentices in London (right now there are seven of us) spend the day together. In the morning, we have a “class” on wide-ranging topics like evangelism, Islam, Sikhism, devotions, exegeting the Bible, business for transformation, resiliency in the field, etc.
In the afternoon, however, we spend a good portion of time sharing and praying for one another as a group.
As part of my struggle to adjust, my living situation was causing me particular pain.
I had been sharing with the apprentices and asking for prayer regularly about my struggles, both particular and overall. As we went around the circle sharing and asking for specific prayers, I began to be more and more agitated.
My emotions were a roiling ocean inside me. For no particular reason I could pinpoint, I could not seem to call my feelings into order.
I remember trying desperately to keep the tears blurring my vision from spilling over. By the time it came to me, I was barely holding it together.
I don’t remember all of what I said, but I remember enough to not be super proud of what I said.
Pain broke the dams inside me, and deep sadness and poisonous anger came out.
I told everyone that I didn’t even want to share my heart—it would cost me a lot to put words to the howls inside. I said that I knew that they would pray for me, but so far, their prayers had done nothing to help me. They would pray for me, as countless other people were praying for me, and I’d still go home to a place I hated at the end of the night.
It would cost me something and cost them nothing.
In front of a roomful of people I’d known for barely any time at all, I’d come completely unglued.
The construct of who I want everyone to believe I am lay in ruins around me.
Afterward, everyone came and put their hands on me and prayed (I felt too ashamed of my outburst to stick to my guns about not wanting prayers). My friend Kim even cried.
It was never truer at that moment to me that my tasks were too big, and I saw God’s ability—truthfully his love—as too small.
I woke up the next day feeling deeply ashamed of myself—how I’d acted toward my friends and toward the God I call “Father.”
Astonishingly, though, that day I received an outpouring of such love and kindness, individually, from each person in that group. One friend with particular music ability actually recorded a beautiful song of encouragement for me and sent it to me.
I was touched, but I didn’t really understand. Far from propelling these people away from me, they were actually moving toward me and even gifting me with their own vulnerability in return. Each of those relationships took on a new intimacy.
It wasn’t until I was talking it all over with my Sonship mentor, Charity, that I started to understand. “Yeah, ministry in weakness,” she said.
Ministry in weakness requires actual weakness, you say?
Without really formulating it into a linear thought, I realized that I had thought ministering to others in weakness would not call on me to be actively, presently weak.
I never pictured actually looking weak—beyond maybe wearing a single, martyred tear.
I never pictured sobbing and yelling at the people and God who loves me.
But, in this case, that’s what it meant.
When the Lord said, “Come die here,” he also meant to lay down my commitment to maintaining my image.
Honestly, I’m still not really great at this. I will still fight back tears and make more a presentation of my vulnerabilities, but perhaps not as much.
But the Father is so gracious to me.
And He’s not giving up on his plan to make me look more like his son.
Ironically, I do think Exodus 4:13 would still make a good verse for my prayer cards — not because I think God has made a mistake and should send someone else, but because I think it speaks to coming to a point where we realize that the list of our un-qualifications to participate in God’s work is in fact very long.
Weakness is actually a good place to be in to start seeing just how overwhelmingly sufficient God is.
Our God is mighty to save.