So this week I concluded the book of Acts and as I was going through the book, I got a glimpse of Paul’s character. I gathered Paul was very disciplined, very opinionated and outspoken, and a little hotheaded “I know my rights” kind of guy. Paul was being brought before the courts for his belief and faith in God and during his trial, Paul the hothead got short with one of his accusers only to realize that that was the high priest he had insulted and that did not help his case at all! In fact, I was a little disappointed when in the midst of the trial Paul announced that he wanted his case tried by Caesar the Roman Emperor. I imagined Paul in a matter-of-fact-i-know-my-rights kind of way declaring, “I appeal to Caesar” (finger pointed to the sky). The reason I was disappointed was that we know from reading the Book of Acts that Festus stated he would have released Paul from jail and dismissed the case if he had not made that statement.
Although Paul ended up in prison for such a long time because of that one statement, I realized that the journey to get to Rome to appear before Caesar allowed him to have some incredible experiences preaching the gospel in remote islands. God had called Paul to minister to the gentiles and if it took one comment or even a character flaw to get him to the gentiles then God was going to use everything! Another thing I know about Paul’s character is that he was completely surrendered to God. He brought every part of him into ministry partnership with Jesus Christ: his disciplined nature, his opinionated and outspoken self, his passion and even his hotheadedness. AND GOD USED ALL OF IT!!!
There are many things about who I am as a person that I am very proud of and I do not hesitate to use those traits in service of God. For example, I am a planner and very strategic in my thinking and so I find myself in many roles in and out of church that lean in on my ability to effectively lead teams or effect change. However, there are also traits in my character that need work. Those are the things about me that perhaps frustrate the people who know me very well and have to live or deal with me on a regular basis (…sorry husband dear…). I do not necessarily present those as an offering to God when he asks for all of me. I leave those flaws at the door but unfortunately, those character flaws keep getting in the way of God’s plans for me.
Today, I learn from Paul that if I make all of me (the good, the bad, and the ugly) available for God to use, He will use all of me to bring about His purpose for my life and His kingdom. Even the not so desirable parts of me will not get in God’s way. He will use everything that is surrendered and what He does not find useful, He will conform to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8: 29, Philippians 3:10). That is great news. I do not have to be perfect. I can come just as I am.