Here I am. Use me.

I received this text from one of my girls on my birthday:
Look forward to seeing how God will use/encourage/sharpen and bless you this next year.
My response: 
I hope He will use me MORE than He ever has!

I keep thinking about her words. And mine.
The Lord continually encourages me, He never ceases to rub incredibly rough and uncomfortable sand paper against me with the goal of refining me, and He blesses me even when I am faithless.
He does all of these things because He wants to and because it delights Him.
But using me? That decision rests heavily on my shoulders. 

When I was in college, one of my favorite professors, after breaking down the Romans passage about being a pot in the hands of the Potter said, "God cannot create a beautiful vase when He only has enough clay to make an ashtray. What have you given Him to work with? Can He make something beautiful out of your life because you are fully surrendered and trusting Him, or are there only a few scraps available because "you know best?"
I was blown away by his statement twenty-four years ago, and it still knocks me off my feet today.

I am not a selfish person, refusing to serve others or to give when it is needed. But I can be lazy, choosing do no 'nothing' instead of 'something' simply because I don't feel like it; and I can fall into the trap of insecurity, focusing on my weaknesses rather than moving forward in obedience and letting the Lord take care of the details. Both of these leave work undone, needs unmet, and people unserved. And according to Scripture, this is not acceptable.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18-20

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Luke 9:37, 38

If I am called and commanded to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ, be a doer of the Word rather than a hearer, share the truth of the Gospel, accomplish the good works created by Christ, and roll up my sleeves to work in the fields of the Kingdom ...
I better be WILLING to do so!

Can God use unwilling humans to accomplish His will? Absolutely. Does He? Yep. 
But what He wants are hearts that are fully surrendered to Him.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Luke 9:23, 24

I lived far too may years contributing to my faith, rather than being COMMITTED to my faith. Praise God that He has been so gracious and longsuffering with me. The turning point was the death of our son, Matthew. Delivering a son without life pushed me to my knees, where I cried out, "What Lord?!? What do You want from me?" His answer was quiet but resolved. "I want all of you, Michelle. Every piece of who you are, body, mind, and soul. I want ALL of you."
I remembered the words of my professor. "God cannot create a beautiful vase when He only has enough clay to make an ashtray. What have you given Him to work with? Can He make something beautiful out of your life because you are fully surrendered and trusting Him?"
And it was on a hospital bed in the darkness of night when I answered Him. "I want to be a beautiful vase, Lord! I am giving You everything I have. It is not much, but use it as You will."

And now, in the year of our Lord, 2016, I echo the same.

Use me, Lord. With all of my sin and brokenness and pride - use me. As You will. I am willing - and wholly surrendered. Keep me there, Lord. As a wise man once said, "The trouble with a living sacrifice is that it is always trying to crawl off the altar!" I know I will squirm and fight and have eyes filled with frustration and fear when control is taken away from me, so in those moments - HOLD ME FAST, Lord. Remind me of who You are, what You  have done, and fill my mind with Your promises. I want to be a willing sacrifice, not a rebellious, tiresome, obnoxious sacrifice that puts a stench in Your nostrils and makes You wonder why You even bother with me. I want to serve You, Father. I want to serve the Kingdom. I want to serve others. From the greatest to the least ... I want to be used to encourage and comfort others while being refined and made to look much, much less like me - and significantly more, like YOU. Here I am Lord. Use me, I pray, in Your name. Amen.

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