I can still hear the songs being sung in our old church. They still ring out like they did when I was a little boy. This morning one in particular comes to my mind.
Jesus use me.
Oh Lord please don’t refuse me,
For surely there’s a work that I can do.
Even though it’s humble,
Lord help my will to crumble.
Though the cross be great, I’ll work for you.
I hear the old voices as they harmonized, the instruments as they played. I hear my dad singing, leading the congregation and my mom playing the organ. Grandpa sat on the back row keeping an eye on me as he waited to take the offering.
The pastor sang loud and emphatically. Everyone joined in and sang how they’d carry the cross and do the Lord’s work.
As I grew older, I’d sing that song but it would haunt me. I knew for a fact I couldn’t live up to those words. I’d much prefer God use others and that it benefit me. I was asking God for a big break to become a rock star and to help me find my fame. I never once sat down with God to see if that was in his plan at all.
So my will didn’t crumble. It stood firm as life crumbled all around it. There was work for me to do but I was not going to do it.
Romans 8:6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
By allowing my desires, which I rationalized as not being sinful, (I was dying to live the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle…only in a good way??) I was letting my sinful nature control my mind. When God asked me for faithfulness, I’d do something else. When God asked me to follow him, I went the other way. When God came in the room, I hid in the stack of fig leaves over in the corner.
My depression became worse and worse. I sought other evil to entertain me. I fogged my mind with chemicals. I pushed God further and further away and the beast that lived within me took over. He thrived on my disobedience and arrogance. I thought I was making myself great but I was allowing myself to be sold off into a torturous and evil slavery.
Whenever the thought to turn back to God entered my mind it was chased away by the hostile beast that was ruling over me. I would give God lip service but was very rarely able to taste the fruits of God’s love because I was never given wholly over to him.
Life isn’t easy now. It isn’t going to be as long as I wear this banged up body every day. There are struggles everyday. I can choose to struggle in bondage to my sinful nature or choose to struggle for Christ and inherit life and peace. I’m not going to breeze through the day being waited on like some rock star. Every morning life is going to hit me smack in the face. It can either hit me with God’s promises or the two-by-four of disappointment. I’m opting for promises.
Romans 8:17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
I’ve sought glory all my life and suffered for my efforts. I managed to come up glory-less. God’s glory is amazing. It takes a puny guy like me and fills me with supernatural strength and uses me for all those things I was once afraid to commit to do. Jesus use me…