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Called, but Not Qualified

Growing up in church, attending Christian schools, my childhood was engrossed in bible stories and lessons about God’s love for man and His grand plan to redeem us. From a young age, I always strove to have a personal relationship with the Lord in setting aside time for bible study and prayer—as I was taught to do. I was baptized at the age of 17, shortly after coming to understand the true gospel; but in all of this, a real, intimate relationship with Christ was still lacking in my life. Somehow, as much as I thought I loved the Lord, my idea of Him was still a distant, almost fantastical one.

Worship was still a formality; Sabbath was still a long list of don’ts. Granted, I believed everything I read in the bible and the inspired writings of Ellen G. White, and I knew that Jesus loved me -even in my rebellious years- but all of this hadn’t yet become practical to me. I still had a lot of unlearning and learning to do. I struggled with the idea of surrender, because I knew that I was not living the way I knew God wanted me to, and this reality often caused me to look at Christianity as a far-fetched ideal that was too difficult for anyone to reach in a single lifetime. Essentially, I had a works-based mentality—that if I tried hard enough to do the right thing, God would count me worthy of Salvation. Not only was I exhausted trying to live up to this unattainable standard, but it resulted in a very warped perception of God in my mind, and that caused me great misery. Looking back years later, it’s comforting to note that even in my ignorance, I knew that something was lacking. I believe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but it took me a while to respond to it. For several years I continued on the downward spiral of a fruitless faith until I was impressed to seek an opportunity to work in full-time ministry. I knew that God was calling me to something more meaningful.

At this point, I was overwhelmed by a full-time job and university studies, which consumed most of my time. As a result, my spiritual life began to suffer greatly. As much as I liked the idea of missionary work, I still had worldly desires. Pursuing a career was my top priority. I was comfortable with the independence I had gained while working in corporate Johannesburg. Eventually, a ministry opportunity arose and I knew that it was God who presented it. I had been praying about a similar opportunity for about a year, and the Lord presented it to me in a timely manner. This is when I was assured that my convictions were not my own. The Lord was calling me into ministry.

In the months leading up to my new endeavor, I faced a great deal of discouragement. For a while I entertained thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. Often I had second thoughts about leaving my job that I had worked several years to secure, about walking away from a career that was just about to take off. At the same time, I knew that all these things were fleeting, and that serving the Lord and others was far more rewarding than any job would ever be. I supposed if I was putting all that I thought I knew into practice, that Jesus would not only become real to me, but that by being a fulltime missionary, my idea of faith would be more Christ-centered than the legalistic way in which I perceived it for so many years. And so I heeded to God’s voice and accepted the call.

Before I knew it, I was on my way to New York to work as a bible worker. I took what little theological understanding I had, and though crippled with fear, I put my trust in the Lord. I was encouraged by people like Moses, who, although he lacked adequate speech, was used by God to fulfill His purpose for His people. I thought of Jeremiah, who felt that he was unworthy to speak, for he was too young. Isaiah said, ‘Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.’ Yet, the Lord was with each of these. He provided them strength for their weakness and used them to accomplish great things. These were regular men, just like me, who, although feeble, were willing. For a long time, I had allowed my insecurities to hinder my service to God. I had always heard that ‘God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called,’ but this was the first time I was faced with the reality of it all. Alas, the more I prayed about it, the more the Lord showed me that this was all part of His will; and that gave me peace.

God wants to use you like that. If you struggle with trials and fears and sins, you qualify, as long as you’re also willing. As God blesses you, commit yourself to be His channel of blessing to others. Today, we need to see ourselves in the plan of what God is doing in earth’s history. He has blessed us with great light, not just so that we’ll be saved, but so that we can become a blessing to others, that they may be saved, too. We can’t bottle it up. He wants us, ordinary though we are, to be His channel for taking the message of the Savior to the world. And what a blessing it has been doing that here at Westchester SDA church. Coming here was the best decision I have made in my life, as I have experienced God in these few months in more ways than I have throughout my Christian life. Not only am I learning what it is to be alive in Christ, I am sharing that with many people, and it brings me great joy to do my Father’s will. Worship has become heartfelt, the Sabbath a delight, and I have a clearer understanding of righteousness by faith. Moreover, I no longer struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I’m simply in awe of God’s ability to use a sinner like me, to beckon others to Himself. God is accomplishing His purpose by using an ordinary person who obeyed Him.

So next time you feel inadequate, think of how you may be a blessing to someone else by simply being willing.

Robin Mitchel is currently working as a Bible Worker in the Westchester Korean SDA Church.

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