Can God use anybody? Everybody? Our body?
Can God really use me? How can I lead others if I so often fail to even lead myself? How can I take care of somebody if I cannot take care of my own body? What about my rebellious flesh? Do I really have to pretend all my life that I am managing to keep it under control, or can God bring a true transformation even to the most hidden and complex parts of me? How about all those times of doubt and skepticism that invade my heart and mind? These and other questions are hunting many people today.
The great missionary and leader Hudson Taylor struggled with seasons of immense doubt and skepticism, but looking back at his life he recognized that even these times were redeemed by God:
It may seem strange, but I often felt thankful for the time of skepticism. The inconsistencies of Christian people who while professing to believe the Bible were yet content to live as they would if there were no such book, had been one of the strongest arguments of my skeptical companions, and I frequently felt at that time, and said, that if I pretend to believe the Bible I would at any rate attempt to live by it, putting it fairly to the test, and if it failed to prove true and reliable, would throw it overboard altogether. These views I retained when the Lord was pleased to bring me to Himself. And I think I may say that’s since then I have put God’s Word to the test. Certainly it has never failed me. I have never had reason to regret the confidence I have placed in its promises, or to deplore following the guidance I have found in its directions.”
Almost straight away after hearing God’s call to China he began preparation; he exercised in the open air, and ate healthier. However he continued to battle the sin in his flesh even though he knew that victory was possible; that our human body can be trained to resist much discomfort, and our flesh can be crucified on the cross and be regenerated. With passion and love for China he said:
I almost wish I had a hundred bodies. They should all be devoted to my Saviour in the missionary cause. But this is foolishness. I have almost more than I can do to manage one; it is self-willed, earthly-minded, fleshly.
So here are two lessons for us:
- Firstly, do not be afraid of times of doubt and skepticism. God is not afraid of the questions you may have. Face all the nagging thoughts and look for his face in everything; you may be surprised to see him even in the darkest thicket of your mind. He can bring good out of all situations.
- Secondly, do not live your life kidding yourself you have a thousand bodies to accomplish the task. You don’t; you have only one. Your body needs rest and health, and your flesh needs discipline and boundaries. Make your body an ally to your ministry, not an obstacle, and make your flesh submit to the Lordship of Jesus. Even the greatest leaders have come through times of doubt, had to learn to take care of their bodies, and had to crucify their flesh. Do not be naïve to think you are an exception.
Joanna has a passion for mentoring female leaders to become mentors for a new generation. She is a founding director of One Rock, a board member of Renovare UK, is studying for a doctorate with Asbury Theological Seminary, has written a biography of Hudson Taylor, and will have a book on Amy Carmichael published in summer 2014. In her spare time she loves taking photographs of nature, and playing with her cat Chester.