Strong's Synonym

7:30 AM

He said I had no idea how God was going to use me. I doubted: "Why?" My talents. My abilities. It was obvious. And from a human standpoint, maybe it was. I pick up on things quickly (except driving and golf). I take charge. I stay up late getting things done and have fun doing it. I speak well and I write well and I sing well and I can bang out a not-half-bad tune on the piano. I'm a National Merit finalist. Everybody said I would go far.

So I planned from an early age to be great. Everything had to be big. The books I wrote would be bestsellers. The organizations I would start would be as recognizable as the Red Cross. The people I met would be blown away by how intelligent and articulate and passionate a (humble) Christian could be. My name would go down in history. For sure, I would be a bestselling fiction author, since, well, I just knew I'd revolutionize literature for Jesus.

Funny thing? I never had success in fiction, not counting the dog stories in the children's magazine. I typed out essays (torture at the time), and God opened doors through that. My inner author pouted. Then I got pretty good at essay writing, so I figured I'd be a bestselling nonfiction author. Speaking opportunities sprung up like crazy -- as in, stand five feet away from an audience and tremble through some half-baked thoughts printed on white, white paper. But I liked that, especially since I spoke to thunderously supportive crowds who weren't deciding to vote for me or anything. My mom tried to convince me to go on the homeschool speaking circuit -- not too unappealing, I must admit.

I suppose that life, had it ended there, would have looked successful and God-honoring, impressive and fulfilling. Every talent and ability would be well-used: I was going to tutor in English, write books, speak on the side, get married, raise kids, love Jesus.

I'm not doing that life anymore. I love writing. I love speaking. I love tutoring. Praise God for the gifts and the abilities, the opportunities that grew me and blessed others. They're not going away any time soon. But it's becoming more and more obvious to me that my talents and abilities aren't enough -- not enough to do the work of God. The things He's using and blessing like crazy?

My weaknesses.

I'm uncomfortable speaking extemporaneously to a group of middle schoolers on the cabin floor or the youth group on Sunday evening. It's hard for me to counsel one-on-one, to find answers for those who ask. I hate being the center point where all the unpopular and clingy girls congregate at random youth outings. I'm not good at praying faithfully. It scares me to bare my soul and share how sinful and confused I can be, even to those who love me best. I never liked saying hello first. I get tired of reading picture books and pushing swings and cleaning bathrooms. It's not immediately gratifying to respond with extravagant grace to those who spew misunderstanding and downright hate. It's no fun doing the boring daily death and cutting out my pride and self-absorption. I fail at loving those hard to love, at giving grace to those I'd rather begrudge, at being patient with those who get on my nerves.

That's what God has called me to do. Love unconditionally. Die unglamorously. Give again and again. Not in a recognizable ministry position but as the clock ticks by at home and at the doctor's office and in awkward social situations. Honestly, I'm no good at it. I haven't earned any plaques and rightly so. I fall flat on my face, and I tell Him I don't want to and I can't and I wish I could write about how to be a radical Christian instead of actually being one.

With God, weakness is the new strength. I look at everything He's done through my pathetic stumbles surrendered to Him and never once am I tempted to say, "Nice work, Bailey." That's just laughable. It's all Him. It's so obvious it's Him. And more than anything, I want more Jesus in me.

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