I grew up in a home filled with music. My mom started playing piano when she was three years old and played weekly in church, starting in seventh grade. Even after having kids of her own, she taught piano lessons out of our home. With her first-year students, the music wasn’t always pretty, but it often filled our home.
I loved to sing with my mom. She’d play the piano as I sat alongside her on the wooden bench and sang. “How Great Thou Art.” “In the Garden.” “Because He Lives.” We’d flip through the old Lutheran hymnal until we found a song we both liked, and then Mom would play.
My favorite song to sing with her was “Here I Am, Lord”:
Who will bear my light to them? …
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I didn’t understand the words I was singing. But early on, this song was planted within me. It was a song I would cross paths with again.
Some years passed by, and on a visit home from college, my mom pulled out the hymnal and we sang “Here I Am, Lord” again.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
This time around, the words took on a completely different meaning. I thought of how God had brought light into my darkness, how knowing Jesus had changed everything about me.
Whom shall I send?
My answer: Someone else.
I wanted to be used to God, but what could he do through me? I wanted to “bear his light,” but I figured I’d probably cause more harm than good.
As we sang on, however, I heard my soul speak the words:
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I still didn’t fully understand what the words meant, and I still felt 100 percent sure God couldn’t use me. But a small part of me was willing to say yes. Something within me couldn’t say no any longer.
Over the following weeks and months, I kept hearing myself quietly speak the words, “Here I am, Lord. If you lead, I’ll follow.” Then it’s on you, right?
The truth is that, on our own, we are in inadequate. In every way. On our own, we are disqualified from being used by God.
Thankfully, it’s not about who we are. It’s only about who God is. It’s about his gifts. His abilities. His strength. His wisdom. And his potential. Not ours.
Oddly enough, the only time we can’t be used by God is when we think we are adequate.
One of the clearest ways I can see that someone is growing in his or her relationship with God is the person’s willingness to say yes to God. To big things. To small things. And particularly to things that don’t make sense or are out of one’s comfort zone.
I think of a friend who went part-time at his six-figure banking job so he could start a side business that he had dreamt and prayed about for years.
I also think of one of my best friends who became a realtor right out of college. He was good at it and quickly became one of the top realtors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was awesome, but he always felt a tug to go to seminary. Everyone, including me, thought he was crazy, but nothing was cooler than the day he called and said, “I just applied to seminary, and I’m wondering if you’d be a reference for me?”
And then there’s the lady who, after trying to get pregnant for years, conceived, only to have a miscarriage. Broken and upset with God, she ended up at church “of all places,” as she put it. God began to heal her. When I asked her if she might be willing to share her story with the church, she said yes. She encouraged countless women and couples who had experienced the same thing themselves.
The longer I follow the Lord, the more often I find myself speaking the words “Here I am Lord” throughout each day. I want to be used by him. But at the same time, I’ve never felt more inadequate than I do today.
Am I still able to be used by God? The church I pastor has grown from 32 people to thousands. Am I still able? I know the truth: I’m still the same average person I’ve always been, but with less hair. I still get nervous before I preach. I still get uneasy before making a decision.
At times, I’m paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. At times, I’m tempted to walk away from it all. I’m afraid that people will realize just how average I am.
God, can you still use me? Am I adequate and able to do this?
The truth is, I’ve never been adequate. It’s been God the whole time. So there’s nothing different in what lies ahead. On my own, I am completely inadequate. If you need proof that God can use you, look no further. I’m your guy.
Feel inadequate? Lacking? Insufficient? Disqualified to be used?
We’re right where we need to be in order to be used by God. All we have to do is say yes.
When we start saying yes to him, he’ll begin to do the impossible in and through us. Things that blow us away. Things that we could never ever imagine. Things that will leave us completely speechless.
The best part is that when God does the impossible through average people, we clearly know it’s all God. It’s because of his abilities and not ours. Only he gets the credit. Only he gets the glory.
“Who will bear My light to them?” Jesus still asks.
Our simple prayer:
“Here I am, Lord.”
This article is adapted from Talking With God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (WaterBrook, 2017) by Adam Weber.
Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a church that has six campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota.