"As long as you think you are of value to God He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve." - Oswald Chambers
Are you of use to God? How can you be when you're filled up with yourself. You can't accomplish His purposes when you're so busy fulfilling your own.
"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus..." Acts 20:24
I remember in high school when someone asked what my spiritual gifts were. I could sing, I was a people person, I could make friends with anyone and I loved to write. "No, no. Not talents. Spiritual gifts," he asked. I was puzzled. Weren't these the things God had gifted me with to use for Him? He gave me a voice to sing, a talent to write, a heart for people...
Hear what Oswald says: "We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not what we bring with us, but what God puts into us..."
Oh. I get it. My life - my talents - my abilities - my skills - my knowledge - my giftings - this is not what I offer Him. Instead this is what He offered me. The things He gave me in order that I might serve and bless Him. But to be USED by Him, I must empty myself of ME and receive the fullness of HIM.
I can honestly say that as I've had a few months to "sit back" and not sing and not serve, but rather be fed and to study and to learn and to draw closer to the heart of my Savior, I've felt more useful than I have in a long time. If you're in constant ministry you have certainly experienced being tired. But I had no idea that I needed to be filled, to the point of overflowing, so that I could be restored to serve in ministry again. I didn't know I was drained. I didn't know that my offering was falling short. I was giving all I could - but because it was all and only me, it was purely my natural ability.
What I've learned is it must be His supernatural ability through me. I don't want to bring the things I possess but I want to come empty-handed. What? How can you present an offering empty handed? I want to give out of my poverty, not out of my "riches." My poverty has allowed me to see what I truly am - worthless, useless, empty, broken, selfish, nothing without Him. Instead of being "used up," being useful because of His purposes being accomplished in and through me. The greatest of these purposes is the oneness and fellowship with Him, which replaces any talent or treasure I could ever have or attain.
"The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship." - Chambers
While I look forward to serving and singing and giving and going again, I also know I don't want to serve or sing or give or go without knowing fully He's accomplishing His purposes through my ministry.