My life is full of words. I read novels and stories and poems and student essays and devotionals and the Bible. Words upon words. I love large words. Grandiose ways to say everyday truths. Little did I know that I would be completely changed by two words. Five letters. Utilitarian, boring words that have spoken into my life and transformed me. The words: Use Me.
It was the new year. The challenge put forth by my pastor was to pray for God to reveal a word for us for the upcoming year. I thought of many words. Big words. Important words. Pious words. None fit. I nested each one for a time in my heart, but none hatched. This went on. So long, in fact, that the challenge was no longer being mentioned at church. I had reached the dangerous precipice of forgetting to define my year.
Then, in the momentary quiet on a drive to school, the word was spoken. It came upon me already feathered with fullness. In 34 years of knowing God, no word felt so clearly defined by Him for me. It was My Word…well, words. Use Me.
I nestled it in. My word took up residence in my heart almost immediately. It was so much my own word, my own journey, that I have mentioned it only once until now, where I record it here as a reminder and an encouragement.
I am an ordinary person. I live an ordinary, on many accounts boring, life. My life has outwardly hardly changed. I still spend my time balancing teaching and parenting, I still live- likely long term- right in my same community since birth. I still have the same long-standing faith. But my vision has changed. I am being made new. Where I used to focus inwardly, I am striving to see outward. Where I used to see people through my lens, I now see them through God’s. In some recent social situations where I would normally focus nervously on the impression I was making or my own ability to fit in, I felt suddenly very clearly comfortable focusing on others. The change made me available to see the needs in others’ lives. I began sending notes. Each week I would pray for God to clearly give me people to pray for, then I would write to those people notes of encouragement. I felt like a new person. I felt God moving in and through me in small, but fresh ways.
I have always struggled with hearing God’s voice. What does it sound like? Would I hear, or understand, His message? Was the whole idea of hearing God a supernatural ability that God gifted to only a special few, or used in the Old Testament but irrelevant today? After my word was spoken, suddenly it felt very comfortable to speak My Word to God and to hear His clear response. From the names He gave me to pray for, to small but specific tasks: weeding someone’s garden, gifting something needed to someone. Some of these were tasks I had done before, but never at God’s specific prompting. I was asking, and God was answering. I was being used. It felt comfortably nourishing.
I have been surrounded by spiritual giants all my life: generous, prayerful, selfless people who have served abroad, run ministries, fed the hungry and clothed the poor. I have often felt ordinary, disconnected from my potential to share God’s grace and love and live in the fullness I have received. My Word has given me connection, a promise that I will be used. Every day, I find myself breathing those simple words: Use Me. And God is fulfilling that promise to me moment by moment.
But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7