Church Folk- we’re a strange brand! I suppose that’s what happens when you simultaneously have Holy Spirit living inside you and are still human. We hear the Truth, receive it, and begin our journey. We go to church. We “behave.” We learn some scripture. We serve. We get “plugged in.” We do all the good church things a nice little Christian does. But not too much, so as not to be labeled a freak! Somehow, in our culture, we have decided Christianity is more about the things we do rather than the relationship He offers.
We’ve gotten it backwards. Jesus did not sacrifice His entire life for us simply so we could become puppets on a string and be “used” for Him. While He loves to speak through us and move through us, He never wants to just USE us. Yet, that is our prayer day after day: “Lord, USE me.” If we are honest, our prayer of “Lord, use me” has a touch of pride associated with it. There is self-focus buried in that phrase. God using me gives me value. It makes me feel important. Purposeful. Usable. It inflates my ego…and we pray it all in the name of Jesus…
“Lord, use me” can be rooted in an insecure identity.
“If I work hard enough, maybe then I’ll be good enough.”
“If I do enough for God, maybe then He will know I’m sorry about my failures.”
“If I do more, maybe God will be pleased with me.”
“If I learn enough, maybe it will make up for lost time.”
“If I serve more, maybe the church leaders will respect me.”
What if we shifted our prayer to “Lord, speak for your servant is listening?” (1 Sam. 3:10) When God called out to Samuel, he didn’t respond with “Lord, use me.” I wonder if we could listen so intently to our savior that He would seal our identity within us so we wouldn’t jump to doing for God before being with God?
If our prayer became “speak, for your servant is listening,” God would have the space to resolve the heavy issues that so frequently entangle us. The issues that keep us doing for God while the anthem plays in our minds: “Lord, use me.” We cry, moan, complain, and fret over the same issues day after day, week after week. We go to the altar and lay them down, and then we rise and return home to live out life the same way we always have: do more, work more, and try harder. If we desire different results, we must choose differently. Instead of an attitude of “Lord, use me,” may our prayer be: “Lord, speak to me.”
Every word God ever spoke through Samuel as a prophet to God’s people, was first spoken personally to Samuel. It was a personal encounter with God- a beautiful communing of Samuel and God. If Samuel had not listened to God, He wouldn’t have been “used” as His prophet. Samuel’s role in God’s Kingdom began with God’s voice directly to his own spirit. It was from the overflow of listening to God that Samuel ended up being “used” by God. Rather than being so focused on being “used” by God, let us shift our focus to listening to God.