You Are Never Disqualified

The Descent of the Holy Spirit in a 15th centu...
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Mick Turner

One of the greatest gifts of God to each of us is the placing of a divine plan for our lives deep within us. God has his generalized plan for humanity and a personal plan or mission for each of us. You, me, the butcher, baker, and even the candlestick maker have a divine purpose scripted on our hearts by the Creator and it is a plan just for us. More incredible is the fact that God has equipped us to carry that plan out and in so doing, help establish his kingdom right here on earth and bring great glory to his being. What a wonder! What a blessing! What a responsibility!

 It doesn’t matter who you are, where you have been, and what you have done. That divine purpose still exists inside you and with a little effort and a lot of faith, you can discover it. Start with prayer, asking God through the Holy Spirit to reveal his divine plan for your life. Be persistent in your asking; be vigilant in waiting for an answer; and be confident that the answer will come.

 Also, keep in mind that it is never too late to get started on the dreams God has for you. God created you to accomplish extraordinary things and no matter how old you are, how sinful you have been, or whatever afflictions you may suffer from, God can and will use you because that is one of the primary purposes you were created in the first place. Listen as Jim Graff speaks clearly to this issue:

 God uses ordinary people – with all their flaws and problems – to accomplish extraordinary dreams. You and I don’t have to wait until we have it all together, achieve a certain degree of fame, earn a specified amount of money, get a better job, or meet the right person. Instead, we can start today to embrace who we are and how God made us, knowing that he will use us. From this knowledge, wellsprings of confidence water our hearts. That confidence allows us to see our dreams and visions as God’s road maps to significant lives.

 A significant life – that is what God created you for. Make a consecrated commitment right now to lead a life of excellence in cooperation and divine partnership with the Holy Spirit. The life of excellence is what Jesus demonstrated for us and it is that same kind of life to which each of us is called. Sure, we may foul up things from time to time, but God is right there with us offering a hand to pick us up, dust us off, and send us on our divinely appointed way.

 As said earlier, it matters not where you have been. In fact, your past failures and problems may be part of your qualification for the task God has for you to perform. I worked for many years in the field of addiction prevention and treatment. The most effective professionals ministering to those suffering from addiction were those people who were former addicts themselves. It is this foundational philosophy upon which Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are built.

 If you think your past sin(s) prevents you from carrying out your purpose for God, you have been lied to by the Master of Deceit himself. Satan would like nothing more than for you to continue walking around half-alive, depressed, despondent, and spiritually paralyzed. That’s why that little voice tells you time and time again that there is no way God will ever use you. Granted, he may use others but you, you’re a lost cause.

 Listen my friend – God saved you and God will use you. The God Christians worship is not a God of wasted effort. God never does anything without a reason, a plan and a purpose. If you are saved, you are to be used. You are destined to be God’s instrument for something special. If you doubt what I am saying, go to Scripture and conduct a detailed study of Paul’s life.

 Paul, formerly known as Saul, was there when Stephen was stoned to death. He even held the coats for the men who pelted the first Christian martyr. Saul was the most persistent and ardent persecutor of the early church. By the world’s way of reasoning, you would never expect that God would use Saul to spread the faith across the Mediterranean World. But that’s exactly what God did. God, thankfully, doesn’t necessarily think as the world thinks.

 If God can use Paul, he can surely use you.

 In China I knew a wonderful believer named Mr. Zhou (not his real name.) Now in his 60’s, Mr. Zhou was a successful businessman and used much of his income to support the efforts of the house churches in his Province and also to support young pastors in training. He also spent most of his free time training Chinese missionaries to live and work in Muslim countries. Mr. Zhou had many business interests in the Middle East and often used his stores for employing young Chinese missionaries.

 What makes Mr. Zhou’s story so fascinating is how it is similar to that of Paul. Back in the chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution Mr. Zhou was a young man and a leader in the Red Guards. His specialty, as he put it, was ferreting out Christians and torturing them. He often beat them horribly, put dunce caps on their heads and signs on their backs, and then marched them through the city streets while a gathering mob hurled insults, bricks, and bottles at them.

 Later, when in his late 30’s, Mr. Zhou found Christ through the efforts of a pastor he had once tortured. Now Mr. Zhou does God’s work out of a sense of love and service. God used Paul and God used Mr. Zhou.

 If God can use Mr. Zhou, He can use you.

 Once you finally accept the fact that God can use you, wants to use you, and will use you, it is then time to get to work. Many times sincere believers put themselves in a holding pattern, waiting for specific directions from God as to what their ultimate purpose is. Yes, we do need to discern what our ultimate purpose is and with prayer and patience we will do just that. Yet in the meantime there is plenty that we can do. No matter where you live I am certain of one thing: there are people living there who are in need of something and who are suffering. More than likely there are already groups of Christian servants working to meet some of those needs. Find out about these groups and find a way to get involved. The real question is not so much what you should do. The real question once you know in your heart that God wants to use you as his compassionate servant to a hurting world is, “Are you available?”

 Only you can answer that question.

 Hopefully, you are, indeed, available. You are gifted for service my friend. And no matter what form that service may take, you can rest assured of one absolute certainty: the Holy Spirit will empower you not only proceed, but succeed. He will make sure you not only survive, you will thrive.

 My primary purpose in writing this article is to encourage you to understand and accept the reality that God put a potential and purpose in you before you were born and, further, he still wants that purpose to be realized. Stop looking back at the past and instead, step forward into the service that God has for you. You cannot change the past but know this: whatever happened is history in God’s eyes and in God’s heart. As a Christian you have been forgiven so turn your eyes forward instead of keeping them riveted in your rear view mirror.

 Do all that you can to let this truth sink deep into the depths of your heart: where you are going, what is in your future is far more important that what’s behind you. Scripture tells us that with God, all things are possible. So if it seems your dreams have died, let the Lord resurrect those dormant dreams and allow those dreams to drive you and motivate you to be all that you can be for the glory of God and the sake of others. Joel Osteen, on of God’s gifted encouragers, speaks clearly about this:

 You may feel that you are at an empty place in life today. Not much is going your way. You’ve been through severe difficulties. But God wants to restore you, to encourage you, to fill you with His hope. He wants to resurrect your dreams. He wants to do a new thing.

 Continually remind yourself that you have a gift on the inside. You are talented. You are creative. That’s exactly why the enemy is trying to push you down, to keep your gifts, your creativity, your joy, your smile, your personality, and your dreams from ever seeing the light of day. He would love for them to lie dormant your whole lifetime. Thank God, it’s not up to your enemy: it’s up to you.

 As mentioned earlier, it may well be that your past mistakes – the places in life where you erred the most – that will qualify you for a particular service in God’s kingdom. During my years working in ministry and social service in Dade County, Florida I witnessed this spiritual truth played out time and time again. Brad, a former homeless crack addict found the Master, found sobriety, and then founded a crisis intervention center for street addicts who had overdosed on drugs. Many lives were saved through the efforts of Brad and the outreach workers he trained.

 Marsha, a one-time prostitute and talented pick-pocket wound up in the Emergency Room, severely beaten and strung out on heroin. Through the efforts of a hospital chaplain she obtained treatment for her addiction, became involved in a local congregation, and after several years of sobriety, helped start a program that provided business clothing and interview skills training to women who desired to leave her former profession.

 Scripture reveals that God is a master of the art of reclamation. In today’s popular television vernacular, he is a maestro of the “total makeover.” If you doubt my word, read it for yourself. Scripture reads like a regular rogue’s gallery of offenders. John and Paula Sandford describe this aspect of God’s character:

 God’s children, in whom He has done mighty things, have come from checkered careers. Moses was a murderer. Look what Jacob did with Esau and Laban. Abraham tricked King Abimelech. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed. Peter denied Jesus three times. John and James fought to be the highest. Paul went to Damascus breathing murder and threats. Our checkered careers, our utter sinfulness and degradation, our falling into all manner of vain seeking, become by the grace of God on the cross and in the resurrection the inevitable writing of wisdom on our hearts. Our hurts and sins have become our schooling and preparation. Would that we could learn purity the easy way. Praise God that His mercy is such that He turns the depth of our sin into the strength of ministry. We are not proud of our wrongdoing, but the sweet grace of God is such that in the end we thank Him for it. Our sins have become our training for high calling rather than our disqualification.

 As the years have passed, my journey of faith has grown simpler in many ways and one of those ways involves having both awe and reverence for how God chooses to do things. As the above quotation from the Sandfords implies, no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Further, no matter what our past indiscretions might have been, none of us are so damaged that he cannot use us in some way in carrying out his will here on earth. Coupled with the aforementioned sense of awe and reverence , this awareness leads me to a profound sense of gratitude.

 Think about it.

 © L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved

*** The above is an expanded version of an article that first appeared on LifeBrook several years ago.

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