I was thinking recently about the phrase “used by God.” It often comes loaded with expectations. Sometimes that pressure comes from external forces: church leaders, Christian websites, our own past experiences, etc., and sometimes the pressure comes from within. The little voice telling us we’re not being useful to God unless we’re actively doing something.
We might think (or have been told!) to be used by God means “bringing people to the Lord” or “building orphanages in Africa” or “serving in the church nursery” or “being involved in your local community.” If we’re lucky we might have been told that being used by God can be as simple as ministering to those closest to you, your immediate and wider family.
But what happens when you or someone around you is hanging on to faith by the fingertips? What does “being used by God” look like then?
What if being used by God means being willing to delve into the darkness within your own heart and within the hearts of others? What if it means not hiding your doubt? Not denying it or pushing it under the carpet? What if it means being real, raw and honest about the doubts, about the questions, about all that stuff we are so good at avoiding? What if we said we were done with the polite, “I’m fine,” responses when we’re really not?
What if it means not trying to fix it too quickly; instead, accepting it’s part of the journey and that by acknowledging the dark places and doubt, and really digging into it, the journey will be richer and deeper and truer. And actually bring you closer to God.
We assume what we see as negative = BAD
What we feel as negative = MUST BE FIXED
What we hear as negative = NOT ACCEPTABLE
What we are told is negative = WRONG
What if we change the way we look at faith by changing the equation?
Negative = OPPORTUNITY
Maybe what we see as negative, what we see as unacceptable questioning and doubt – maybe that is actually a necessary opportunity to figure things out, and we just can’t see it yet!
Maybe we need to stop trying for the immediate fixes and learn to be.
It’s not about sitting under those negative thoughts like a cloud or about letting them break you. It’s about being willing to engage with the darkness, dig into the doubt, asking yourself, why is this a question for me? What might God be trying to speak to my heart through this time? It’s about getting support from others who have walked a similar journey, not walking this path alone.
What if “exercising your faith” means holding on to faith? Holding on to God even when you don’t believe, or when you can’t believe? What if it means holding on even when you have big questions, valid questions, questions that you can no longer ignore?
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