Straight from the Faithful Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Do you ever question your usability? By that I mean, you love the Lord wholeheartedly, you’re serving Him faithfully and with utmost devotion. And yet you find yourself looking at others who are seemingly more successful, more prosperous, more talented, more popular, more needed, more … usable. And hence consider yourself of little or no use to the Lord?
Just before Christmas I was arguing such a case with the Lord during a church worship service. I found myself struggling with inadequacy and as a result, feeding my mind with negative self-talk and self-flagellation. I somehow became caught up in the compost of comparison—comparing my ministry with others who seemed to have a “higher calling” than I did. A more vast impact than I had. Doing so much more for the Kingdom than I felt I was being given opportunity to explore or achieve. From there I landed firmly in the dung-heap of defeat.
As I poured my heart out to the Lord from my place in the pew and made room for Him to speak into the empty recesses of my heart, we were asked to stand and sing. “O, come all ye faithful” rang out. There was no question in my mind that this was God’s personal invitation to me. “Thank you for your faithfulness, Lisa. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your devotion to me.” But He didn’t leave me swimming in self-exultation. Rather, He challenged my heart with the next refrain, “joyful and triumphant”—causing me to ask, “Am I being joyful? Am I acting triumphantly?” My honest answer was, “No. Obviously I am not or I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you, Lord”. Now that He had my full attention, he took the freedom to ask, “who are you, O [Lisa], to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Rom. 9:20-21). Hmmm…
I’m guessing that you’ve had similar conversations with the Lord. Even as you’re reading this, you’re searching your own heart and struggling with some battles of the mind.
- It could be that you’re a writer who has submitted multiple manuscripts representing countless hours of sleepless nights and faithful plodding, only to be released into publishers’ scrutiny to be rejected over and over again.
- Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom doing the never-ending dishes, conquering mountains of laundry, chasing runny noses, performing mundane duties from sunrise to sunset barely finding the energy to survive your endless days.
- Or maybe you’re a student overwhelmed by the piles of assignments and the stress of exams and the challenge of living peaceably with roommates. Not to mention the pile of pressure weighing on your mind of what on earth you’ll do with your future when all is said and done.
- It could be that you’re suffering from a mid-life crisis. Wondering where on earth the first half of your life has gone and where you’ll go from here.
- Are you finding yourself struggling to remain faithful in your marriage? Are you questioning things you never thought possible when you stood at the altar those many years ago? Or have you just discovered that your spouse has cheated on you in some way after all of your years of faithfulness to him/her?
- There are likely some of you who are quietly, faithfully working behind-the-scenes on a job-site, in your church basement kitchen or nursery, or in your empty nest—questioning your true value and worth.
- Some of you might be facing challenges such as job loss or family crisis or health challenges, not knowing how you’ll ever get through this difficult season let alone what the future holds for you.
- There could be some of you reading this blog today who are in the last days of your life looking back on it with the finish line in sight just hoping that you can finish well the race you’ve faithfully lived for Christ.
- No doubt that there are those of you who, in this very moment, are asking yourself, “What on earth am I doing, for heaven’s sake?”
So how do we get to that dung-heap of defeat? And more productively, how do we get out of it?
We must first of all acknowledge that the Enemy of our souls wants us to think that we are nothing, that we are accomplishing nothing, and that we will amount to nothing. Secondly, we must realize that, in vast contrast to the Deceiver, the Lover of our souls, the Creator of every fiber in our bodies has a very profound and purposeful use for each one of us. And thirdly, we must cease striving and instead, rest and be content with who God has created us to be, where He has chosen to place us, with not only gifts He has bestowed upon us, but a willingness to be used of Him however He sees fit to do so. Finally, remember that all that He really asks from us is that we remain faithful to Him. So let me encourage you to “Keep on keeping on”
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Rom 12:11)
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org