Vacation Bible School. That’s just for kids, right? Silly songs. Silly skits. Silly costumes. Kids stuff. Sure.
But is there any message in Scripture that God delivers just for people 12 and under? We older and ‘wiser’ ones sometimes make faith so complicated when the simple beauty of truth is what we really need.
This week, I’ll be singing songs and doing those silly skits from Group Publishing’s Weird Animals VBS at my own church.
Here on the blog, I’ll be sharing with you those same stories, the same lessons, the same truth, but for grown-ups.
Many years ago, I sat across from a ministry leader at a McDonald’s, having a deep life conversation while snacking on chicken nuggets. We had met that day because I wanted to talk to him about going deeper in ministry, feeling like I wanted to be ready for whatever God had planned for me to do. I wanted to be useful, effective, a vessel fit for God’s purposes, and I was looking for some guidance.
So, he leaned back for a minute and gave me his words of wisdom as my spiritual adviser.
“Heather, if you ever want to be effective in ministry, you’re going to need to be more like her.”
I sat stunned for a minute and thought about the implications. The girl he named was a perfectly good Christian, but she was my opposite in every way.
Not just some ways, mind you, but pretty much in any way it’s humanly possible to be different from someone else–that’s how different we were.
Extrovert versus introvert. Feeler versus thinker. Spontaneous versus super-organized-planner-with-three-calendars.
So, what exactly did it mean for this man to tell me I had to be like “her” in order to be effective in ministry? Did it mean that God couldn’t use me with the spiritual gifts I had?
Had God made a mistake when designing spiritual gifts, accidentally giving some people gifts like teaching and administration rather than gifting us all with mercy or serving?
Were introverts all God-mishaps who needed just to get it together and become extroverts in order to be used by God?
I wanted so much to be used by God, though, that I decided to become more like “her.”
And I made myself sick with the effort.
That’s what so often happens when we are pushed and yanked and smashed into positions we shouldn’t be in to become people we’re not called to be and forced to do what God didn’t design us or ask us to do. All that effort to be someone else can make us sick and stressed. It steals our ministry joy and stunts our growth and effectiveness.
Forced sameness crushes us and destroys the beauty of God’s design.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
We are His handiwork, His masterpiece, His poem, and we are designed for His own purpose and plan.
Made just right.
Even when others don’t see that and they try to shove us into uniform boxes of acceptability and usefulness.
Even when we’re embarrassed by the differences and wish we could just fit into the same mold everyone else seems so comfortable in.
Even when we think He can’t possibly use us, because He only uses people like “her.”
Even though you’re different….Jesus loves you.
The Samaritan woman at the well needed this. She needed a Savior who saw beauty in unexpected places.
This Messiah, this Jewish teacher, sitting at the well in the heat of the day shouldn’t have been talking to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman.
More than that, she was a sinful woman who likely drew her water from the well at noon so she could avoid the jeers and stares of the town gossips.
Not only did Jesus break all the societal rules and talk with her, not only did Jesus love her, not only did He extend salvation to her, but He used her to share the Gospel with others.
That’s what she did. She dropped her water jar right there and ran to town saying, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him (John 4:29-30 NIV).
She didn’t just find Jesus herself. She brought others to Him, a crowd of others, all of them needing a Savior.
Surely Jesus knew sitting down by that well that the best person to minister to that Samaritan town wasn’t a Jew, not a Pharisee, Sadducee or Rabbi.
He needed a Samaritan, one who had been drenched in grace until her parched soul just couldn’t stand to keep the Living Water all to herself. She had to spill out her joy so others could come see Jesus for themselves.
The disciples didn’t understand. She was….so different. So unexpected. So unlikely.
But God loves to use the weak, the small, the foolish, the most unexpected and unlikely of all because it’s never about us anyway. It’s always about Him.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King