Saturday, February 7, 2009

Voice Activated

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

                        Isaiah 6.8 

Stop Hiding

John P. Kee is a gospel singer and pastor whose church sits in one of Raleigh, North Carolina’s most crime and drug-infested areas. His message and music are inimitable in their ability to sheath tough truth in assuring love. “Stop Hiding” is one my favorite songs of his. Imbued with a soft-pedaled r&b flavor, its centerpiece is a hypnotic chorus that says, “The thing that you want to hide is the thing that He wants to use. Stop hiding.” Knowing the background of Kee’s ministry and many of his singers—reformed criminals, addicts, and other “unredeemable” sorts—adds extra punch. What I hear the song saying is the same compulsions that drive us to sin can be redirected to accomplish good.

I can’t accept anyone purposefully dishonors God’s will that we live healthy, productive lives purely out of spite and rebellion. If each of us dug beneath our harmful attitudes and actions, we’d discover genuine needs. Sin comes from attempting to remedy these deficits in thoughtless ways. Romans 7.15 says it all: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” It’s a universal template for sin. “I want to feel secure, but I hate that I’m materialistic.” “I want to experience love, but I hate that I’m promiscuous.” “I want to know I matter, but I hate that I belittle others.” God wants to use impulses compelling us to sin. Once we learn to tap them for His glory, we can stop hiding.

Shortcomings and Weaknesses

We say this so often, I’m reluctant to repeat it. But it’s so essential to our spiritual welfare it can’t be over-stressed. God creates us as we are and places us where are to do His work. He chooses unique tasks and opportunities for everyone based on how He fashioned him/her for a specific time and place. What we bring into the world—gender, ethnicity, and orientation—where we land, and where we travel is not by coincidence. Every experience, good or bad, increases our competency to serve God’s singular purpose for us. We’re where we are at this moment because there’s work here only we can do. All that we’ve been given, all we’ve learned through trial and error, is all we need to get it done. What’s more, God’s plan even factors in our shortcomings and weaknesses. He uses them to lead us to people and places that need His light and love. He uses them to widen our understanding and develop our sensitivities to the vulnerabilities of others. He uses them to manifest His strength in us and through us.

Open Call

A peculiar mystique attaches itself to God’s calling—a dramatic intensity suggesting certain people experience profound epiphanies that launch extraordinary quests and ministries. To be sure, He calls some of us in this manner. Yet God’s beckoning isn’t confined to this. Indeed, it’s an open call, a general invitation to every believer who hears Him. “Who will go for us?” He asks in Isaiah 6.8, and our response immediately follows: “Here am I. Send me!” God’s voice activates movement and inspires initiative. It’s answered by going, doing His work all along the way—not by waiting until we reach a certain time and place in our lives.

In Matthew 22.14, Jesus states, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” We can’t misread Him to mean God selects only the holiest and most devout from a long list of candidates. Actually, the story preceding this indicates the opposite. After guests originally invited to a banquet fail to show, the host opens his doors to anyone, “good and bad.” (v10) One man, however, arrives undressed for the occasion and gets kicked out for ignoring why he was called. God chooses us when we realize all we are and all we have make us perfectly suited for the job He calls us to do. His voice activates goodness in thoughts and behaviors that once answered to sin. Things we want to hide are things He wants to use.

God's voice activates goodness in us so things we want to hide become things He can use.

(Tomorrow: A Mind to Work)


Mariah and Byron Edgington said...

Great picture & tag line Tim. Thought provoking.

Tim said...

Thanks, Mariah and Byron. The shot seemed to catch the emotion that often drives our thoughts away from God's goodness and hinders His ability to use us as He sees fit.

Blessings of joy and wonder to you both!