Meet Frodo Bagins, of the Shire. A quiet, gentle Hobbit, for the most part, wishing to live out his days in the peace and comfort of his home land. But ‘fate’ will not have it so; and he becomes aware of the terribleness of the relic left in his charge: the Ring, the One Ring, the Ruling Ring, being sought after by it’s evil maker! Frodo is frightened, or better put, terrified, and feels completely helpless and useless concerning his charge (LOTR 1, The Fellowship of the Ring).
Meet Isaiah, citizen of Israel, who suddenly finds himself (whether he realized it at the time or not) being summoned before the awesome and terrifying Throne of God, the Lord of Hosts. In that moment he instantly recognizes how completely undone, ruined, unclean, naked and bare he was before Complete and Total Holiness! (Isaiah 6:1ff).
Then, something amazing and incredibly unbelievable happened to both characters: they responded to a call that they felt completely unprepared for, unqualified for, and unworthy of. I’m sure it shocked them both when out of their mouths came, “I volunteer for the job!”
Meditating on these two men, I thought to myself, “How small they must have felt.” Kind of how I feel presently about the call I am pursuing. Though I am far into my adult years, I feel like a small child attempting to do a man’s job. I do believe it was Solomon who had the same sentiment when he became king of Israel in his father David’s stead (1 Kings 2:7).
Think about the many persons in the Bible who felt inadequate to the task that was being set before them:
*Moses, who was so afraid, and resisted so much, that God actually got upset with him, and finally promised to send someone with him (cf Exodus 3:7-4:16)
*Joshua, who apparently needed to be encouraged a number of times just to make sure he got the message (four times Joshua was admonished to “be strong and courageous”: Joshua 1:6,7,9 & 18)
*Gideon, by his own confession, was from “the weakest clan in Manasseh,” and he himself was “the least in his own family” (God called him a “mighty warrior”- Judges 6:11ff)
*Esther, who was unwilling at the first to go before the king of Persia on behalf of her people who were in danger of annihilation, for fear she herself might die, even though she was the chosen queen (Esther 4:1ff).
*Mary (mother of Jesus), completely perplexed at the announcement that she would bear a son, the Son of God, no less… and she not even married yet! (Luke 1:26-29)
*Peter, who, after a miserable collapse of loyalty at the arrest and trial of Jesus, finds it difficult to believe that Jesus wants him to “feed My sheep” (John 21:16-18).
These are just a few examples of those who felt inadequate to the task, yet answered the summons to follow and obey their specific callings.
What was it about these folks, these, shall we say, ‘reluctant followers,’ that God desired to use them in His work? Well, there are a couple of things, I think. For one, they took an honest assessment of themselves and abilities, and recognized that they just didn’t have the stuff to accomplish such grand tasks. But then they acknowledged the character and power of the One Who called them to the task, recognizing that HE could do whatever was necessary through them to accomplish His will. In light of this they submitted to God’s counsel and will, submitted to His choice– namely, them; even though they couldn’t figure out or understand how or why. They simply trusted God.
Let me narrow it down in three words: humility, trust, and dependence. These aren’t exactly character traits that are highly valued in our day, in our Western culture. As a people we look up to “the self-made man,” the” independent and liberated woman, ” and the like. I chuckle as I remember a line from an animated movie where a little hamster expresses this ideal when about to face ‘certain peril and danger’:
“Ring, ring! Who’s there? Destiny!? I’ve been expecting your call!” (Rhino the hamster, in the animated movie Bolt)
While it is amusing, it does convey what our culture looks up to: men and woman who possess personal inner strength, who are self-motivated and independent. But humility, trust and dependence are often seen as weaknesses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Moses, for example, showed incredible strength of character and leadership throughout his ministry; Esther faced down the murderous nemesis of her people; Mary faced incredible scorn as she bore the ‘child of unfaithfulness’ in the eyes of her contemporaries, and Peter became one of the most powerful leaders of the new born church. No, none of these folks were weak; but rather than depend on ‘personal inner strength,’ they put all their dependence on God, Who more than made up for the deficit of their own weakness.
Well, if you’re like me, you’ve probably had more than a few qualms about walking out the assignment you feel God has called you to. It just doesn’t seem to make sense when you add up your own personal assets. But God is more than able to ‘balance the account’ of your life. Why, He’s the Banker, and the Bank! There was no mistake; He really did mean YOU. And you are able to fulfill all He has planned for you because He is working in and through you. Besides, more than your service, God desires you, which is why He calls you along side of Him in His work in the first place. Be of good courage! We (you, me, with God) can do this!