I know that God uses us despite our weaknesses, but what if he uses us because of our weaknesses?
A few nights ago, I drew a picture.
My family was together in the living room looking for something to do. Megan thought it would be fun for each of us to draw a picture as a gift for someone else in the family. We each took a minute to ask God for a picture and then we’d draw what we see. I decided to draw something for my daughter, Amelie. So I prayed and the picture that came to mind had to do with angels, and pools, and water. Each image was a few steps removed from the basic shapes in my wheelhouse. I wanted to skip the drawing and just write a letter or preach a sermon about what I saw. Instead, I self-consciously had to work it out on paper. The final product is about what you’d expect from a guy wielding colored pencils for the first time since art class in high school.
I started to wonder if this art experiment had any real value since it didn’t appear to be great.
In Scripture, there is a poignant story about the discovery of the shepherd king, David. The prophet Samuel was on the search for the next leader of Israel and was told to go the house of Jesse in Bethlehem. There, God would show make clear his plans for the next king of Israel. While in Bethlehem, Samuel prepared a sacrifice and was joined by Jesse and a parade of his sons. We can only assume Jesse was thrilled at the possibility of his flesh and blood being considered for royalty.
Straightaway, we’re introduced to Jesse’s first son, Eliab. Samuel thinks to himself, “Oh yeah, this one’s got IT.” But before he gets to pouring a horn of oil on Eliab’s head, the Lord interrupts Samuel.
“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”
One by one, Samuel looked at seven of Jesse’s sons, and they things fell flat. None of the men in front of him are God’s choice.
Jesse sends for his last son who is still in the fields tending to the sheep. We can assume that David wasn’t even on the radar for consideration. He wasn’t even invited to the party. But soon enough, a ruddy, dirty boy arrives unaware of why the prophet is visiting his home. As it turns out, he was the one Samuel was looking for and David was oil bombed on the spot.
I’ve always loved this story because it confronts the way we evaluate people’s worth. It renews my conviction to not judge people based on how they look, talk, or present themselves. As opposed to what’s often portrayed in leadership circles, God is not into showmanship. He’s after purity and strength of heart.
I have to wonder Jesse felt in all of this. His best and oldest sons were not selected. They were overlooked for what he may have considered the least of his sons. God chose to bless the youngest, least presentable, and least impressive of his family to be the next king. I wonder if that felt strange. Why wouldn’t God choose the first and best?
It’s a question I wrestle with. While I know that God honors our hearts above our appearance, I still prefer that He blesses my strengths, not my weaknesses. On many days, I still feel like my strengths are the only parts of my life that are valuable and of use.
- I’d rather craft a good talk for hundreds than stumble around words in a one-on-one conversation.
- I’d prefer to project a leadership persona than confess places where I don’t know what I’m doing.
Sure, it’s good to know our strengths. But I would propose that this story reminds us that our vulnerabilities and weaknesses are often what God chooses to bless.
Craig Groeschel said it well…
“We might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses.”
As we continue in David’s story, we find this is a recurring theme. When David chose to confront the grueling Goliath, Saul offered to outfit him with the best armor available. As David tried it on, he realized that he’d be better off facing Goliath without the extra help. He showed up in his perceived weakness rather than the king’s strength. And it seemed to work for him.
What about you? Do you have strengths that you tend to hide behind?
Regardless of what everyone around you wants you to be, is it possible that you can be a greater blessing by being honest with your weaknesses?
What if we could trust that even in our places of insecurity or vulnerability, that God wants to bless even the weakest places of our lives?
So when my daughter gets older, she will see this picture I drew for her. She might laugh a little and may ask me to never draw anything again. But maybe through my weakness, she will see my heart in a way she hasn’t before.
God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. May we be free to live with open hearts and open lives. May we believe that our strenghts AND our weaknesses have the potential to carry blessing and anointed by God.