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"Oddly, as I look back on Jesus' time from the present perspective, it is the very ordinariness of the disciples that gives me hope. Jesus does not seem to choose his followers on the basis of native talent or perfectibility or potential for greatness. When he lived on earth he surrounded himself with ordinary people who misunderstood him, failed to exercise much spiritual power, and sometimes behaved like churlish school children....I cannot avoid the impression that Jesus prefers working with unpromising recruits....From such a ragtag band Jesus founded a church that has not stopped growing in nineteen centuries."
- Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew
I'm working my way through this book, and it was only minutes after reading this section that I received a phone call. It was from a girl I'd never met who just started coming to our church. I send out emails for one of our pastors to newcomers who fill out a visitor's card, so that's how she'd found my number. She was asking me about redemption and what does that mean? She'd had a dream where Jesus kept writing this word “redemption” over and over again, but, having had no real interaction with faith before this encounter, she didn't even know what the word meant. So, of all ill-equipped people, she came to me.
It was a humbling experience because through clumsy words and unprepared explanations, I tried to explain to her what redemption means and why Jesus would plead with her through her dreams to understand it, to pursue it, to pursue him. I hung up the phone and wondered, Did I even answer her question? Was it good enough? What if I messed up?
I prayed over our conversation that the Holy Spirit would use my words--however simple and mediocre--to speak to her heart whatever it is that she needs. And I realized the glory in that--that it's not me doing the work, but God, who in turns get the glory for anything that comes of it. And why he would choose to use me--an ordinary person without polished speaking skills or a battery of verses by heart (working on that one though, #7!)--to assist him in his work on this earth, even in the most insignificant matter? I do not deserve it and yet here we are, pulled along by his graciousness and mercy.
So please pray for her as she sorts through these questions that she's facing and as she's exploring who God is and what a life pursuing him promises. I keep praying in terms of the parable of the sower & seed from Luke 8: "Some seed fell on rock, and when it began to grow, it died because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorny weeds, but the weeds grew up with it and choked the good plants. And some seed fell on good ground and grew and made a hundred times more." That her faith will be watered and spared from the weeds that choke, but grow bountiful and with a harvest.
My new approach to praying for others
A 30-Day Challenge for Your Heart