A random thought occurred to me one morning as I was starting my quiet time. You see, I had missed that peaceful morning time of prayer and reading the previous three mornings. We’d fallen behind on sleep and were having trouble getting up in the mornings. We were oversleeping and it was causing our days to get off to abnormal starts. Although I would sit down and try to read and pray at various times during the day, there’s just something about spending even a few minutes in quiet before the kids are up. When I miss that time, I have to work harder to be truly focused on Him the rest of the day.
And so, here I was. Back in my quiet morning place for the first time in several days. I was groggy. I could hardly see straight to type thoughts into my journal. I wasn’t completely certain I could even form complete thoughts!
As I finally started to be able to write out a prayer, I confessed to the Lord my frustration and exhaustion with where I was in that moment. Distant. Undisciplined. Unfocused. But, as I began to thank Him, this sentence came out:
Thank You for using me, even when I feel as if I’m unusable.
That’s when the thoughts began to flow. Really, really flow.
We are often taught that we are vessels that need to be filled with the presence of Christ in order to be useful to Him. After all, we are told to abide in Him that we might bear much fruit, right? (John 15:8, and surrounding passage) Then we are taught that “bearing fruit” means seeing souls won to Christ.
But, is that really the fruit Jesus is talking about? According to Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is what glorifies the Father. That is what shows the world that we are His disciples.
The saved souls are His job.
My point is this: we are usable vessels to God whether we are full or not. He can accomplish His purposes through us whether we are focused on Him or not. Think of all of the people in the Bible He used. How many of them were truly 100% sold out to and focused on Him at all times? Precious few. How many of His children did He use even in the midst of their sin? The number grows. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the complete pagans He used.
God’s will is going to be done through me whether I’m sold out to Him or not. Whether I’m focused or not. Whether I am disciplined or not. Even as the emptiest of vessels in the worst of my sin, I am usable. Why? Because God is God, and His will is not deterred by my sin.
On the one hand, that thought gives me relief. It helps to know that I can’t mess up God’s plan. Because I mess up an awful lot. On the other hand, the thought spurs me on. You see, when I am used as an empty vessel instead of a full one, I miss out greatly. Sometimes it is simply a recognition thing. I want to be recognized as a disciple. I want to be recognized as one who is bringing glory to Him and working in union with Him and with my brothers and sisters. It’s not pride. It’s what is promised in Scripture. I want to be identified with Him! But, when I am empty that doesn’t happen. In fact, when I am empty I frequently don’t even realize I am being used!
But, when I am full, it is because I am communing with Him. I am abiding. And by doing so, I see His hand. Not only that, but others see Him through me. They identify me with Him. They know I’m His. They see that Galatians 5 fruit. And I get to really and truly be a part of it all.
I am thankful that through those days when I was not abiding well in Him, I was still useful. I am thankful that I could not derail the plans He intended to accomplish through me. But, I am sad as well. I have no idea what I missed those days. It makes me hungry to abide more faithfully. To not let things keep me from being focused. I hunger to be smack dab in the middle of what He’s doing – and be aware of it!