Unimpressive Usefulness :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Unimpressive Usefulness

Andrea Crocker
2:31 read

The young commander paced in front of his newly assembled army. He knew that winning the looming battle was more than a long shot. He had never commanded an army. He had never really commanded anyone. This position as a mighty man of valor was completely unexpected. Several times he had attempted to talk his way out of this job, but it was not to be. He was, for some reason unknown to him, singled out to lead his people in a battle for their freedom.

Gideon continued pacing. Thirty-two thousand men was an impressive army to raise in a short time. Compared to the numbers the enemy continued to amass in the valley to the north, 32,000 was practically nothing. Still, with proper strategy, discipline. . . “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand.” Did Gideon think he misheard? Too many? Before he had time to process the magnitude of what he was doing, Gideon had whittled his troops down to less than thirty percent of the fighting force he had mustered. Ten thousand. This was going to be, “The people are still too many.”

When Gideon surveyed his remaining 300 soldiers, what must he have thought? I gathered a sizable number. I was doing my best to obey God’s commands. Why is God making it harder for me to win this victory? The Israelites (and their enemies) were about to learn that God did not intend for Gideon and his paltry army to win a victory. The God of Heaven would win the victory on His own. The army was there as spectators. Their weakness was the point.

We Are Not Called To Impress

A while back, a woman who has been attending our church for several months related to us what it was that made her think that our church was where she needed to be. Her decision had nothing to do with our education, ministry experience, musical ability, or charming personalities. My husband’s knowledge of biblical languages or skill in preaching were not the deciding factors. Leticia was drawn to our assembly because of a misbehaving three-year-old.

Leticia’s first Sunday was our special Resurrection Sunday service, which we held outdoors under an awning in someone’s yard. Jon, my husband, was leading the singing and Scripture readings; I was seated at a card table which supported a four-octave electric keyboard. Our five children were scattered among the congregated worshippers. The youngest was in the front row with instructions to stay in his seat and not make noise. I was preoccupied with keeping the pages of the hymnal opened to the song we were going to sing without the wind blowing the pages to the Christmas section. I believe I was digging in my bag for a pen I could hook onto a few pages to weigh them down when I heard the announcement for the next hymn number. The announcement included, “After you find the hymn, spend some time reading and meditating on the words. I’m going to have a talk with my son.” The little guy had evidently not followed directions.

Leticia described to us a few months later that she, as a single mother with two little girls, had found it hard to attend church where she did not feel conspicuous when her children acted up. The girls are now older, but Leticia said that hearing the pastor have to stop and deal with his unruly child in the middle of the worship service made her think, “Here is a place where I can learn what I need to know!”

God Doesn’t Need Our Strengths

Often when I am serving in my role as a missionary pastor’s wife, I draw on the preparations the Lord has graciously allowed me. I teach a children’s Sunday school class and frequently call to mind what I learned from my college speech teachers. The piano lessons my parents provided for me during childhood have certainly been used of the Lord in ministry. Preparation is valuable. As God’s servants, though, we must never see our preparations or skill sets as necessary means to God’s ends. The Lord will accomplish His purpose, and when He does so despite, or even because of our mess-ups and flops, we thank and glorify Him even more. We see clearly in those moments that God is accomplishing His purpose in all our endeavors, and we are reminded of our role as grateful spectators blessed with front-row seats for observing the Master at work.