Sometimes, all God wants from us is a willingness to do what He asks us to do.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
It was Baby Bella’s second birthday and her single mom wanted to have a special lunch with family and friends at our church. As a close friend of Bella’s grandmother, I offered to help with preparations and cleanup. Grandma Jolece quickly accepted.
I set chairs around tables. I speared pickles out of jars and stacked them in a serving tray. I arranged cupcakes and cheese slices on platters.
Time to decorate tables. Uh . . . um . . .
The family had chosen a Little Mermaid theme complete with fish shaped helium balloons, tropical colored confetti, and seashells. I and Single Mom’s best friend were put in charge of arranging the shells in the center of the tables and sprinkling the fish shaped confetti on top.
Decorating anything sends my inner stress level soaring. I feel all thumbs. I can’t tell if something looks symmetrical to save my seaweed. Does anyone have a ruler? I need to measure from each edge of the table to know whether the shells are centered.
The decorations were important to Bella’s mama, Grandma said, and she had a vision for how she wanted the decorations just so. I feared I was going to let everyone down. But I had offered to help and all I could do was do the best I could. So I grabbed a package of confetti and pretended it was fairy dust. Nobody measures the millimeters between chunks of fairy dust, right? It just lands where fairy breath blows it.
“Thank you so much,” Grandma Jolece told me later and then repeated, “That was an important part of the party and we’re glad you helped make it happen.”
My shoulders sagged as I tried to soften the truth with a joke. “Decorations are not my spiritual gift. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Jolece’s reply lifted my slumped shoulders. “Your spiritual gift is willingness.”
I have a gut feeling she was right. Yet, wait. Willingness is not on the spiritual gift list in the Bible.
Everything we have are gifts from God.
Everything that make me uniquely me is not because of anything I’ve done. I can’t even shrug it off as genetics. Every skill, experience, and resource comes from God. He selected and planned a tailor-made combination that would make me exclusively me.
What about the stuff I can’t do?
Then there are those distinct times when God combines our incompetence with His power so He can use us to do good anyway.
God gave me the gift of a lack of design sense. He chooses to use whatever part of me–my giftedness or lack of ability–for his glory and the good of his kingdom. That includes my musical ability or my artistic inability. God wants me to be willing to do whatever He calls me to do, whether or not I feel like I’m accomplished or spiritual enough to do it.
God did that with Isaiah.
Isaiah tells his readers in the sixth chapter of his book how God showed Isaiah the full extent of His glory. Isaiah’s reaction. Oh my! More pronounced than my reaction to standing beside the Lincoln Memorial. God is so big and I am so small. He is so pure, so holy, and i–whoa, am I dirty.
Isaiah felt like totally unworthy. And then God had the audacity to ask. “Who shall I send?”
In spite of his flaws and unworthiness, Isaiah chose to say YES to God. Isaiah would end up writing the longest prophetic book in the Bible, full of hopeful promise for coming redemption.
Jill Briscoe once said that if we are asked to do something we know we will fail at doing, do it anyway. In fact, do your very best at failing.
I like to think of it this way:
It’s better to do your best to fail than to fail to do your best.
If you don’t try, nothing will happen. But if you do try, even a smidgeon, great and mighty things can happen—in spite of you.
Why does God ask us for our willingness to do what we think we can’t do?
If we choose to do a task we know we will fail miserably at doing, we leave room for God to accomplish something great. Then, when it turns out well and people want to praise us, we can honestly say, “It sure wasn’t me. I’m not that good. It had to have been God.”
God doesn’t ask us to be competent or experienced. God asks us to be willing. He doesn’t need interior designers, polished speakers, or professional musicians to do His Kingdom work. He desires people with humble hearts who have the willingness to admit their lacks and do the job anyway because there is a job to be done.
God uses the gift of our willingness to bless his people and accomplish great things for his Kingdom.
What will Bella’s family remember long after that birthday party is over? Not the symmetry of seashells and confetti. They’ll treasure the memory that family and friends gathered and worked together to make a day special for a precious little girl. They will revel in the fact that each of us had the willingness to do our part, using the abilities God gave us to give the gift of love.
Even in the form of sprinkled confetti.