"It is not your ability but your attitude that determines what I can do through you." - Love, God
That wasn't something I wanted to hear today (or any day really), but God smacked me upside the head with it.
The fact that He did it today was particularly fitting. I've been planning a lesson on "thankfulness" for the kids all day. My attitude when it comes to my work isn't usually one of overwhelming thankfulness. Instead, I have a sense of entitlement to be recognized for my abilities. Working in an inner-city kids ministry, it is not unusual for me to spend entire days coloring or coming up with simple rhymes for learning Bible lessons (i.e. "Keep it cool; don't act a fool" for remembering self-control). More often than not, when my fingers are coloring, my mind keeps insisting, "You are capable of so much more than this." Enter bad attitude.
Rather than being satisfied and thankful that God has placed me in the position where He wants me to be right now, which just happens to involve some pretty mundane tasks, I want more. More responsibilities, more recognition, more, more, more.
It may not be visible to anyone else, but it's an attitude of my heart that is rooted in pride. I have confidence in my abilities, education, and intellect. I feel like 99 percent of that falls by the wayside here. I get frustrated that the things I worked so hard on for years don't seem to matter here.
But maybe that's because they never really did.
It's not my abilities that position me or anyone else to be used by God. It's attitude. And, I write that with tears streaming down my face because it puts me in place of such brokeness. All the abilities that I have strived for years to develop come down to nothing if my attitude isn't one of humility, gratitude, and complete dependence upon Him.
The distinction between attitude and ability is so apparent throughout the Word. God used men whose abilities were less than stellar in the eyes of men but their attitudes were rooted in dependence on Him. Consider Gideon's words:
"How can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in the whole Tribe of Manasseh and I am the least thought of in the entire family." -- Judges 6:15
God used Gideon to save an entire nation, but if you remember the story, it wasn't because of the ability of Gideon's army. In fact, God told Gideon to reduce his army from 22,000 to 300. Can you imagine? Gideon had to know that it wasn't his ability or the ability of his men that would save Israel. God's power was able to operate through one man who had completely subjected himself to His ways.
Gideon was able to be used so mightily because he had no pretense that he was accomplishing things on his own. He was in full submission to God. He had been broken. Not broken in the sense of being crushed, but broken as a horse's will is bent into subjection by his master. A horse is considered broken and fit for profitable use when he learns to submit instantly and fully to the commands of his master. It's a painful process.
Such is the case with us. We can only be used by the Master after we have come to a place of utter obedience. Reaching that place requires us to become painfully aware of how inadequate we are on our own. That is what brokeness is.
My "theme" chapter for the year has been Psalm 51. There is a section that is particularly fitting:
"You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise."
God isn't impressed with our sacrifices, with the things we bring to the table, whether those be abilities, possessions, etc. All He desires from us is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
Am I willing to give that to Him? To be like Gideon? To be like a broken horse?
The good news is, the story doesn't end with us being in a place of brokeness. God is looking for individuals who are willing to lay down their own agendas in order to plug into his infinite power. When the Master commands, this individual will obey. God is searching for people who have humbled themselves and are willing to be broken for Him. It is these that God will be able to depend on for His toughest battles and His most glorious victories.
I pray I will be willing to be one of those people.