Excerpt from Regina Brett:
We’ve all heard the stories.
Elvis Presley once got an F in music and was told to keep his day job driving trucks.
Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team…
J.K. Rowling lived on welfare before Harry Potter made her a billionaire.
Beethoven’s music teacher said he was hopeless at composing.
Winston Churchill flunked the Royal Military Academy entrance exam twice and finished last in his class.
Lucille Ball got sent home from acting school for being too shy…
Thomas Edison was fired twice for not being productive enough.
Babe Ruth held the record for the most strikeouts.
Walt Disney lost his job at a newspaper after he was told he lacked imagination.
Van Gogh sold just one painting his whole life.
Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression, failed in two business ventures, and lost eight elections. Tell that to the Lincoln Memorial.
The failure of those great successes convince me that our weakness is often the flip side of our strength…Our strengths and weaknesses are usually directly related. For the longest time I resisted embracing my strengths because to do so would make me confront my weaknesses. It was a long time before I learned that God can use both. It took me even longer to learn that sometimes God chooses us for out weaknesses, not for our strengths.
I find it a great comfort that, all through the Bible, God doesn’t always choose the strong. He picks the flawed and the weak and transforms them. A person like Moses, [who did not feel he was a good speaker] is chosen to lead people from bondage to freedom. David,[a child was given strength to kill Goliath and later become king], Then there’s Jesus, who included among His 12 closest followers a man who lied to Him, a man who doubted Him, and a man who betrayed Him.
My favorite Christmas passage starts with “Fear not.” Those two words mean God is going to do something powerful with someone weak. I love that moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus offers to explain the meaning of Christmas to his friend by quoting the Gospel of Luke:
Fear not: For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
I’ve heart it said that we should read the Bible as if we are each of the characters in it. One year the priest of my church, Father Tom Fanta gave a sermon as if he were the innkeeper who closed the door to the holy family on that first Christmas Eve. He acted the part from the beginning to end, from his smug refusal to his shameful remorse.
He said that we are the innkeeper who shut the door and made no room for others. We’re too busy to talk to that friend who is in the middle of a messy divorce. Our lives are too filled to make room for volunteering at a woman’s shelter or babysitting for a friend.
We are those shepherds, busy tending our sheep–our jobs, hobbies, families–afraid when God comes to us, whether in the form of heavenly angels or earthly ones–friends, family, and strangers, or in the shape of problems and crises. We balk when called to go somewhere unfamiliar or somewhere undesired, some detour from our carefully constructed career paths or highly scheduled calendars.
We are like Joseph, who could have quietly left Mary instead of getting into a relationship that might demand more of him than he wanted to give. We prefer the normal, the steady, the predictable–something we can control. We plan our lives and in the planning are careful not to leave any room for God to come in and screw it all up.
We are like Mary, who, first greeted by the angel, was scared. Would we really want God that close? “Fear not,” the angel proclaimed.
What would happen if God called us to something higher. It sounds good–for a second. Until we count the cost. What if it means moving? Earning less money? Going back to school?
When God called Jeremiah, he wanted to decline; he claimed he was too young for the job. Moses wasn’t so hot on being hired to corral the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land.
A priest once told me he was unsure before his ordination whether he was strong enough to become a priest. Then someone asked him, Are you weak enough?” Saying yes to God isn’t about being strong, but about being weak and saying yes anyway.
Mother Teresa once said that she wasn’t called to be successful; she was called to be faithful.
If your answer to the question “Are you strong enough to serve? is no, maybe you’re asking the wrong question, Are you weak enough to serve?
Brett, Regina. (2012). Be the Miracle. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.