One of the things I learned early in life is that there’s no excuse good enough to miss out on the life that God has chosen for me. The Scripture demonstrates over and over again that God uses the least of the least to pull off His greatest victories. And as embarrassing as that can sometimes be, it’s how I see myself.
The fact that I paid for an abortion alone could’ve kept me on the sidelines. But despite that horrific ordeal, God has graciously allowed me to speak at Crisis Pregnancy centers and help them raise millions of dollars over the past decade. Because I’ve failed in so many ways, God gets all the glory for anything and everything that comes out of my life worth mentioning. No matter what befalls me, if God can still use me, as embarrassing and humbling as it might be, I want to be used. And I want the same for you.
What’s Your Excuse?
What’ve you been using as an excuse not to serve God? Are you weak? Perfect. When lives are changed and people are transformed, God will get double the glory—first for the result, and again because He used you to bring about the miracle. Are you wounded? Perfect. When God uses a wounded person to heal someone else, not only will He get the glory for the result in the life of the sick, but He will also be glorified when people see how your assistance of others began a healing process in you. Are you untalented? Perfect. God desires willingness, not talent. I’m inviting you to abandon the excuses that keep you stagnant and self-absorbed, then pick up your life and serve God. When you do, you’ll be astounded at the healing that’ll come into your life.
This wise counsel by Harold Whitman was sprawled across the page of the July-August 2004 edition of Relevant magazine: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive.”
When you pick up your life and serve, you come alive in a way you never dreamed. Your eyes sparkle with the delight of having made a difference. Your soul stirs in anticipation of God using you the next time you’re in His service. It’s the evidence that you “get it” when it comes to understanding how God works. He doesn’t work because of our strength, but despite our weakness. He doesn’t wait until we’re strong enough to help the weak, He takes us in our weakness, connects us with other weak people, and does a mighty work to heal them as He continues to heal us.
Have you made every healing choice except for the one to serve God? If so, you’re not fully aware of what your life can be. Be excited about that. All the previous choices are meant to bring you to this point—the place of service. They’re rendered weak and shallow if they don’t lead you to this place and motivate you to reach out to others.
Perhaps you feel that you could and should do more, but remain at a loss as to where you best fit. I’ve put together a few questions that I think will help you begin identifying what talents, skills, and gifts you may possess. Take some time to ponder them.
1. Do you have a talent that’s appealing to others?
2. Do you have a strength that stands out?
3. Do you have an interest that’s unique?
4. Do you have a personality trait that stands out?
5. Is there something you do that’s outstanding?
6. Have you had a desire to do something for years, but haven’t yet acted on it?
7. Do you have more of something—perhaps money, time, or patience—than most people?
8. Is there a skill or quality in your life you feel is being wasted?
9. Is there someone in your life that continues to ask you about helping others because you have an expertise or a resource they could use?
10. Have you experienced something that’s potentially devastating, and come through it with wisdom that could benefit someone going through similar circumstances?
Ask God to show you your gifts, to direct you to a place where you can serve, and to grant you the courage to follow His leading wherever it may take you. Then ask your pastor how you could use what you have to reach out to others. It could bring healing to many, including you.
The Big Lie
When I worked in drug and alcohol treatment centers, it was a frequent occurrence for people to feel completely hopeless one month, only to consider themselves called to be an alcohol and drug counselor the next. Rather than work on their own healing, they got prematurely involved with others. They often relapsed into their addiction because they started working on others and stopped working on themselves. No one should be so involved in helping others too soon.
No one should wait too long to begin reaching out, either. Yes, helping too much too early produces an unhealthy preoccupation with others at the expense of halting your pursuit of healing. But waiting too long to serve may prevent you from experiencing the final stages of healing. Don’t believe the lie, “Until I am completely healed and strong there is no place for me to serve God.” It’s imperative for your own healing to start reaching out. Begin slowly and thoughtfully, and progress as you’re able. I pray God will grant you the wisdom, discernment, and courage necessary to make healing choices.
Adapted from Healing Is A Choice: Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life & Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them, by Steve Arterburn. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2005.
Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Clinics, the largest provider of Christian counseling and treatment in North America. As host of the daily New Life Live! radio program, he is heard nationally on over one hundred and eighty stations and at www.newlife.com. Steve is the creator of the Women of Faith® Conferences and is the author/coauthor of over thirty books, including Healing is a Choice, Lose it For Life, The God of Second Chances, Every Man’s Battle, and Avoiding Mr. Wrong.