Flawed in Deep Ways

Back in September, I wrote an entry on my blog after a period of silence. This particular post comes after losing myself inside of a black hole. I am not engaging in any social media fast or the like. Instead I have been buried underneath the rigors of seminary education. Greek is not easy, but neither is Hermeneutics. When you mix together these classes, it becomes quite clear that ministerial training transcends the academic aspect. There is a larger issue at stake: faithfulness to God.

With each passing day, I sense the gravity of the call. For example, the following text in James 3:1 speaks volumes: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (ESV). If this is not plain speaking, then I do not know what plain speaking is or looks like. When I think about how Moses hesitated with becoming Israel’s leader, or how Gideon resisted the Lord’s call, I find myself in good company. I sympathize with Jonah, who boarded a ship for Tarshish rather than bring God’s message to Nineveh.

Now, the responses of Moses, Gideon, and Jonah raise some interesting points. All three men refuse to pretend before the Lord. It is true that Jonah’s response is flagrantly disobedient; however, he is honest about it. This leads to to the next point. Moses, Gideon, and Jonah have a deep enough relationship with the Lord, which allows them to be honest. These men do not hide their reluctance to respond to the Lord’s call. At the risk of pressing this point too far, it seems to me that expressing reluctance to God’s call is a good sign. The last time I checked, I didn’t see myriads of people clamoring together in order to be one of the Chief Shepherd’s under-shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-5, ESV).

One last point to make is that Moses, Gideon, and Jonah were far from perfect in their obedience. Moses failed to enter the Promised Land because he let his temper get the best of him. Gideon made an ephod, which ensnared the people of Israel and his family in idolatry. Lastly, Jonah wallowed in anger toward the Lord for his deliverance of the Ninevites. All three men were flawed in deep ways, yet the Lord of heaven and earth used them to accomplish his redemptive purposes and plans. I need to remember that the Lord has not called me to perform perfectly, but to obey him. This includes owning up to any wrong words and actions.

What astonishes me even more is that the Lord knows all about my imperfections. He is aware of the ways that I can and will fail him. Still, his invitation to join him remains constant and sure. The Lord delights in using me, but I have my doubts. He is the one who encourages me in the midst of my unbelief. When I am weak, he is strong. When I can’t or won’t pray, His Spirit groans with words too deep to express. He lights my way in the dark. The Lord deserves all of the credit. Will Judgment Day be joyous? I’m sure it will, but there are no easy outs. On that day, I will face the music for how I have shepherded the Lord’s people.