I remember landing a job with a tiny book publishing business many years ago. I was thrilled, believing it would give me more insight into the whole business of writing and publishing.
But my first day on the job was a real eye opener. I had a pickup truck and the two owners needed their only employee (that was me) to move some furniture from their office back to their house (they also lived together). And I was told this sort of thing would probably happen again.
I drove home that day feeling used. I wasn’t hired because I have a deep respect for writing and would take publishing books seriously.
I was hired because they needed someone with a truck to move their furniture.
Being used is an awful feeling. Your mind starts out in a hot air balloon, dreaming about the possibilities of an opportunity or relationship only to have reality come along like a prehistoric pterodactyl (okay, so that’s not reality but you get the point), shredding your balloon and sending you plummeting down into a forest of briars. You survive, of course, but you walk away bleeding and pretty banged up.
And you tell yourself it’s never going to happen again. You will not allow yourself to be taken advantage of again. You’ll pay more attention next time. You’ll think things through. You promise yourself to stay on the ground and avoid the hot air balloon ride of dreaming big about such-and-such or so-and-so.
So you take a seat on a rock overlooking a cliff and you watch as others begin to hike in all sorts of directions on rocky and grassy paths. And you shake your head as you notice others climbing aboard their hot air balloons. Maybe you even say a little prayer for them. After all, you know what it feels like to be used and how hard the fall hurts.
You decide you’d rather sit on this rock all day (all week, all year) and play it safe than risk something painful like that again.
But what if Someone wants to use you for something awesome? What if there is Someone who doesn’t want to hurt you but wants you to experience something greater than you can dream and lift you higher than any hot air balloon ride?
That Someone would be God.
He’s been teaching me something lately: At the end of all of my dreams, all of my past and painful experiences, all of my let downs and past failures – at the place where all of those things collide with my total surrender, the throwing-my-hands-up-in-the-air and admitting, “I don’t know how to figure my life out or fix things or what I’m supposed to do, Lord” – in the middle of those things crashing together, God can make sense out of all of it and use it. And He can use me.
It’s like He can tie our broken past and experiences and use them like the tails on a kite. Those things we thought were a waste of time or too painful (or too embarrassing) to use and should be stashed somewhere are the very things He can use to keep us humble and draw us closer to Him. And they are the very things He can use to help us soar.
When God uses us like that, taking all of our messes and pain and lifting us up for His glory, there’s no telling what the view is going to be like. We may be clueless while we’re standing on the ground. But when we lift off and we know God is the One holding the kite string and He’s the One providing the wind, we learn what freedom feels like.
We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to figure everything out. We don’t have to be afraid we’re going to get hurt again.
As the Holy Spirit moves us and flows in and around us, as He leads us and guides us and we let go of control (we’re not trying to grab the string away from Him), we can see that being used by God is actually a beautiful and exhilarating thing.
There’s no noise here. No distractions. We don’t worry about pleasing people or letting them down. We don’t look to them for approval anymore and we don’t stress over things we can’t control or figure out. And we don’t worry that God is going to hurt us.
You see, being used by God isn’t like being used by a person. With a person, he (or she) is going to want something from you without giving you much (if anything) in return. Sometimes he will take and take until you feel completely drained, hollowed out, and empty. But with God, He only asks for you to let go of the kite string and He gives you so much more:
Pure and lovely freedom to experience more of Him in ways and places you never even knew existed.
Don’t try to bury or ignore your past failures and don’t be afraid to surrender them to God and admit you can’t figure it all out or fix it. That’s the very place God wants to meet with you.
And that’s the sweet spot where He is going to use you and lift you to new heights, revealing one breathtaking view.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV.)