A Soaring Kite: Being Used by God


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.)




Stop Beating Yourself Up


Stop beating yourself up.

That’s right.  Stop being so hard on yourself for that mistake you made in the past; the one you can’t go back and change and really, do you even want to?  That mistake has made you stronger, better, and maybe it’s even shaken you awake to how much God loves you.  Maybe that was the lesson you needed so you’d realize, “I just really goofed and God is still hanging around.  Wow.  He must really love me.”

Yes He does.  He loves you in all your “imperfections.”  He loves the color of your hair as it begins to gray and has each one numbered.  He smiles when you snore in your sleep, even keeping the dog awake.  He loves how your eyes get that look somewhere between shock and sparkle when He answers your prayer and you “get it” that it’s Him. You’re welcome, He whispers.  And He loves to hear you laugh when you’re running in the rain or playing in the snow.  Yes, He loves every bit of you.

But when you hurt over your mistakes, really taking them in and holding onto them like you can never let go or never be forgiven, it’s like you’re telling God He’s not compassionate enough to understand, not loving enough to forgive, and not wise enough to help you through it.

You and I need to stop doing this.

Mistakes are just that. Mistakes. And trying to avoid all mistakes by tiptoeing through life, trying to be perfect, will only set you up for another round of disappointment on your way to crazy town while your family and friends ride in the back.

The only way to live at peace with your mistakes is to take them to God.  Seriously.  Oh sure, you can try to trick your mind into forgetting by venturing off into a bottle for some mind-altering escape, but eventually you’ll come back.  Or you can run away, treat the mistake like a grizzly bear following you in the woods.  But eventually you’ll get tired of running and that bear will catch up after he’s hibernated.  And you’ve probably heard how hungry a bear is after a long nap.

So grab onto that mistake with both hands, stare it down and admit what it is, what you’ve done, and lift it up to God.  Tell Him you’re sorry, confess what you’ve done and ask Him to forgive you, ask others to forgive you if you’ve hurt them, and then MOVE ON.

You see, God wants your mistakes.  He wants to take them off your hands because He has more important things for you, better things for you to do than wallow in your guilt like a pig in slop.  Of course this is where the enemy wants you to stay, and he will lie and tell you that’s where you belong.  But your Heavenly Father is the One who loves you, who wants to clean you up, and He is the One you need to listen to.  And He has so much more for you than a filthy pigpen full of lies.

Stop listening to the lies.  Right now.

And start believing in the truth:  You ARE worthy of the blessings God has for you.

Not because you are perfect, without mistakes, but because Jesus Christ is perfection and He loves you perfectly.  He’s got you covered.

So get out of His way, already.  Let Him bless you.  Stop trying to sabotage it all because you’re afraid; afraid you’ll somehow mess it all up.  God will be there in the midst of the blessing to help you.  He’s promised He will never leave you, right?

Then trust Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV.)


The Empty Chair


A writing teacher once taught that to create a fictional character you have to peel away the layers to get to the heart of the person. Like an onion.  Isn’t that how we are as real human beings?

We have a layer we show to the world. You know, the face you show in a busy grocery store or at a crowded department store.  The one that says, “I may nod at you or smile, but don’t talk to me.  I’m in a hurry.”  We have another layer we show to acquaintances, those we see from time to time and maybe ask, “How are you?” as we rush in the opposite direction hoping they don’t really want to talk.  Another layer we reserve for family and friends.  We let them in but only so far as to share what we’re comfortable sharing, but we hold back the rest because it’s guarded.  It’s too personal, too fragile to let anyone see.   It’s like this tiny room we have inside of us that we keep hidden because rejection of any kind here would be nothing short of annihilation.  So we quietly lock the door and pretend we don’t hear if someone knocks.

But God gave you that tiny room.  He is very aware of its location and everything inside.  Maybe that scares you because you’ve stashed some big-time mistakes under the floorboard or crumbled up a few regrets and tossed them in the corner, and you’re afraid He’s just going to drop by sometime.  Or perhaps you think it’s such a mess in there, you think you’ve really screwed everything up, and God wouldn’t dare step inside because it’s so NOT perfect.

You couldn’t be more wrong.  First, He will never come in uninvited.  Never.  He is so polite He always waits for an invitation.  And second, He designed that room.  And maybe you haven’t realized it yet, but it came furnished with two chairs.  One for you.  One for Him.

So when you’re exhausted and you come here to escape the world and all that’s wearing you down, not only do you get to rest, but you can hang out with God here. That’s what He wants, to take a seat on that empty chair and spend time with you.  Don’t worry about the mess.  Just unlock the door and let Him into that room, into that heart of yours.  Listen.  He’s knocking…and waiting for you to answer.

“Look at me. I stand at the door.  I knock.  If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.”  (Revelation 3:20 The Message.)