How do you know if you’re cut out for doing the Lord’s work? How do you know if you have what it takes? Does God still have a place for you even when you’re covered in stains?
I was thinking about this recently when a memory from long ago came to mind.
I think I was about seven years old when my parents took my brother and me to Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati (my hometown) to have some family fun. We were having a fantastic time! The weather was beautiful, we ate every food that’s completely unhealthy, and we rode almost every ride. I was having the time of my life! Until I sat in some chewing gum.
For a kid who had been out in the sun all day running around and screaming and laughing, you’d think I would have been far too busy to bother with it. But I was girl, after all. And gum stuck on your butt is just not stylish. I completely freaked out! To me it was the end of the world and the most embarrassing thing e-v-e-r. My mom tried to reassure me that it was no big deal and to just forget about it so we can go back to having fun. But I couldn’t let it go. To me, the whole world saw it and everyone was laughing at me. It ended up ruining most of my awesome day.
Sin can have the same effect on us. The filth of sin can stick to us and not want to let go. Sin tries hard to ruin your whole day. Now, I’m not suggesting you ignore sin like chewing gum stuck on your clothes. Sin should always be addressed and repented, of course. But we all know that sin can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and depth. It can range from a simple “oops!” to something far, far worse. The sin may indeed be embarrassing in afterthought, and it can be very serious and staining at times. Sometimes even after we repent, we still feel its sting.
So what does this mean? That even though all have sinned and fallen short that God can’t use you? Does He still have work for you to do? Or are you destined to be useless for kingdom work?
My pastor once gave the analogy of a volunteer (we’ll call him Bob) showing up at church or an outreach event. On the way there he stops to get a big, juicy hamburger and eat it in the car. But the “special sauce” drips heavily on Bob’s shirt. He doesn’t have another shirt and there’s no time to go home and change. So he has to show up to volunteer with a big stain on his shirt. Embarrassing? A little. But could God still use Bob to do His kingdom’s work? Oh yes!
See, God doesn’t look at our stains, whether it’s “special sauce” or gum, lying or cheating, infidelity or murder. Once you accept Christ into your heart and devote your life to Him, as far as He’s concerned you’re as clean as fancy new, white sheets. He forgives and He forgets about your sin. Completely and forever! He says in Jeremiah 31:34,
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
And Psalm 103:11-12 says,
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
The Lord literally forgives and forgets our sins. That’s great news! Any stain that’s left behind is a self-perceived human thing. We as humans just can’t seem to let go of the past and move on. We wonder how we can ever be effective for Christ when we have “special sauce” all over the front of us. We think, “Isn’t it awful? Isn’t it embarrassing? I can’t go out like this!”
When we think like that, that’s when Satan has you right where he wants you.
God Doesn’t Care About Your Stains
“How could God use me? What kind of work could I possibly do for His kingdom?” you might ask. “Yeah, He’s forgiven me, but you don’t know my past. I’m worth nothing. I can’t do anything!” That’s a lie directly from Satan and don’t you believe it!
See, God isn’t concerned about your past. He wants you now, in the present, right where you are, and He knows you’re able to do what He’s called you to do. That’s why He called you, after all. He can use you for His purposes if you allow Him (the big word here is if). He knows you’re in the perfect spot to increase your faith, help others, fulfill His eternal plan, and bring glory to Him if you allow Him.
And we’re talking about you here! He doesn’t just use people with a theology degree, or church employees, or people who dedicate their entire lives to feeding hungry kids in Africa. Most of the time He uses ordinary, everyday folks like you and me to accomplish His works. We just have to trust His love and let go of the past.
Let’s be clear….there are no pre-requisites. None! There’s no special training or special abilities involved. All He asks is for a willing heart to serve and to bless others. All you have to do is get off the sidelines and show up.
Isn’t it wonderful that God sees us as we are and not how we used to be? Isn’t it amazing that He forgives us and forgets our sins so we can still do life-changing kingdom work? God loves us so much more than we realize. The Cross proves it.
So, are you ready to do some kingdom work? Are you ready to get off the sidelines that Satan keeps you on and run out onto the field of grace? Then forget about the past and just go out there and make a difference for Christ.
And if you happened to have sat in gum, just forget about it. It’ll wash out.
“For I know the plans I have for you, to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11