I couldn’t believe what I’d done. When a friend asked if I had intentionally left her off a party invitation list, I went into self-preservation mode, and instead of ’fessing up, I caved in to my fear and flat-out lied. What was wrong with me? I knew better than to lie. But there I stood, looking her right in the eyes (well, more to the right of her eyes), and selling her a load of bologna.
Afterward I felt guilty. I knew the right thing to do would be to call her and confess. But I didn’t want to do that—she would know I had deceived her! So instead I added pride to my list of sins. And disobedience. And defiance.
I tried not to think about it. The next time I saw my friend, I acted as though our encounter had never happened. I felt awful. Not just because of my actions, but because I felt like I had disappointed God.
At church I kept hearing about God’s great plans for me. My purpose, I was told, is to glorify God and draw people to the kingdom. I read passages like Ephesians 2:10—“God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live” (CEV). But I started to wonder—how could God ever use me? I am defiant and proud. I am unworthy. Why would God ever use me?
While We Were Still Imperfect
One day on my hour-long commute to work, I turned on my audio Bible and began listening. The reader dramatically started reading from Exodus 28, where God goes into great detail about Aaron’s priestly garments, his ephod, and his breastplate—all preparing him to be the high priest for the newborn nation of Israel. Verse after verse, God gives specific instructions on Aaron’s role, clothing, food, and procedures. For four chapters, God talks about Aaron.
I have to admit, about a chapter in, I thought, This doesn’t have anything to do with me, I should move on to something more relatable. I figured this was helpful to the Israelites way back then, but definitely not so much for me. Yet I was determined to keep “reading.” After all, isn’t all of Scripture useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training for righteousness—even the less compelling parts (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? So I continued.
Then I hit chapter 32.
While Moses was on the mountain communing with God and getting the blueprint for how the Israelites could live prosperous and pleasing lives, Aaron was melting down everyone’s gold, forming it into the shape of a calf, and encouraging people to worship it.
Wait, what? I thought.
While God was laying out how God wanted to use Aaron for God’s glory and to bring people closer to God, Aaron was creating an idol. It wasn’t as though while God was giving those instructions, God had no clue what Aaron was up to. It wasn’t as though God got blindsided by Aaron’s actions. God knew and yet still prepared for Aaron’s role in God’s redemptive work for others.
All of a sudden on Route 59, I realized: God does want to use us to further God’s kingdom—even when we feel like God should be disappointed with us. Even in the midst of our failures and rebelliousness . . . and lies and cover-ups. The apostle Paul says, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God sees all and still …
But I made an even more important discovery: I never would have known this if I hadn’t spent extended time in the Bible—even reading those less-than-exciting parts. When the Bible says, “All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live,” God really does mean all of it.
Thank you, God, I prayed. And forgive me. Forgive me for what I’ve done, but also forgive me that I’ve doubted my usefulness in your kingdom. You still want to use me!
Later that afternoon, after a lovely lunch of crow, I called my friend and confessed the truth, knowing that even this could be used for God’s glory.
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