I heard Donald Miller speak last week about Joseph. On stage he’s funny (as you’d expect) and crazy laid back, like he’s stuck in coffee shop mode (which you’d probably also expect his being a Portlandian and all). He doesn’t use big words, and he pauses sometimes for as much as 45 seconds while he looks at his notes. He was a guy talking about stuff. Refreshing.
It’s hard to take notes while someone is just talking about stuff because no single sentence is all that quotable. Still, I did write down one nugget of difficult wisdom. Scrawled across my notebook in thick black Sharpie are the words: “Will God use you? Maybe. Maybe not.”
The words might as well be tattooed on my hand because I can’t stop thinking about them.
Here’s why this affected me so powerfully: I have grown up thinking God has this big, gigantic plan for my life and if I don’t do everything just exactly the way I’m supposed to—whatever that means—I’ll blow it, for me AND for God. So I find myself obsessing over decisions like where I should move, what I should do for a living, what topic I should tackle in my next blog post, what to do about a person I no longer have contact with who doesn’t know Christ. I have this feeling that if I mess up, if I miss the signs that point to God’s “will,” I’ll be doomed. And somehow I’ll have wrecked God’s plan.
But as I write all that, I realize how dependent it is on me. And how small it makes God.
God is going to do what God wants to do. He’ll happily use me, because He loves me and not because He needs me. He doesn’t need me.
That truth made my very proud brain explode.
This week I’ve been picking up the pieces and figuring out what it looks like to live not so focused on making every choice as if the fate of the universe is on the line.
It’s liberating. And, weirdly, I think I’m making better choices. The pressure’s off but the conviction and passion remain. So, I’m writing a book not because God needs my wisdom out in the world, but because I like writing and I want to do my part to glorify God through it. I’m raising my kids to be patient and loving, not because they’re destined for greatness and my one wrong parenting move could derail their destiny, but because teaching my kids to be patient and loving glorifies God right now.
Miller described Joseph as a person who didn’t set out to do something great but as a person who pursued excellence wherever He was, a guy who opened himself up to being used, or not used—whatever God wanted.
I like that. I can do that.