“You will never be a fully empty vessel. YOU will always be a part of whatever God does through you.” Someone recently shared these words with me and helped shift my idealistic but not biblical perspective on life and ministry. Trying to completely empty myself had often hindered me from pursuing and enjoying my calling more vigorously.
One of the Pastors I listened to often in my early days of faith would always pray, “Lord give me the grace to disappear so that you may appear.” I adopted that prayer as my own; it has become almost a mantra before any ministry engagement or concert. It’s beautiful and I still lean into this idea. But God delights in using US. We are his workmanship. He has gifted us with specific personalities, abilities and even some quirks. It is not US but the sin in us—the desire to be our own personal ruler/God—that corrupts us/our work. It is sin, not our re-created selves that causes us to utilize our God-given gifts for our own personal gain.
This is an important distinction because if we believe that anything related to our own fully redeemed in Christ personality is evil or corrupted we will be paralyzed and unable to function as God intends.
I have spent years fearfully and tediously trying to serve God, begging him to keep me from corrupting his work, as though my participation would certainly lead it to ruin. I have struggled to enjoy any of it. I thought God was using me in spite of myself and not because he actually intentionally put things into me that had value. I do not want to walk in that kind of shame anymore.
“The Lord delights in you. If you have a hard time receiving those words you need to ask yourself why.”
God delights in our humanness—our gifts, talents, inadequacies and neediness do not cause him offense. They each provide rich opportunities for him to be able to work. Our strengths (and weaknesses) are gifts, not burdens. SELF that has died to sin through the blood of Christ is free to live in the light of the Spirit. We don’t need to hide or be ashamed. A self that has been given to Jesus is not a stench to God but a delight.