“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
2 Corinthians 3:5
I’ll never forget when my oldest child, my daughter, was a newborn. Being a first-time mom, I was exhausted and exhilarated and nervous all at once. I also didn’t know what I didn’t know. The time in the hospital had been a flurry of activity and, in retrospect, a bit of a blur. Someone was always close-by and I had not been alone with my newborn. I was ill-prepared for the first night of sleep, or lack thereof. Who knew that a little person so tiny could implode the normal sleep cycles of civilization? And who knew that one could survive with so little sleep? Apparently new moms throughout the ages were secret-keepers of this knowledge that a momma cannot grasp until she has experienced it firsthand. My immediate thought when I hear someone is expecting, after the congratulations of course, is they have no idea that their little newborn will be a tyrant who will invade any semblance of normal sleep. Yet, what I remember most of all from those initial weeks of being a brand-new mom is the pure panic I felt the first time I realized I was all alone with that baby girl and her well-being had become solely my responsibility. No nurses nearby to come to my aid and give me a breather. No mom to rush to my rescue. No husband to trade off with for a turn for sleep. Everyone had returned to normal life. Everyone except me. My normal no longer existed. I felt panicked when I realized people had left me alone with that sweet little baby girl. I wanted to shout to anyone who could hear, “Did you mean to leave me alone with her? How could I possibly be capable of caring for her? Am I competent enough to be her mother? How will I know what she needs?” By the grace of God, we managed just fine and she survived me and all of my glaring incompetence.
What a parallel that is to how we often feel about our callings in Christ. As believers, we know and understand that God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. We love to quote the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 that says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD.” Psalm 138:8 says, “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.” Initially, this truth excites us and we expectantly look to God to fulfill it in us, through us, and for us. Then, gradually, life begins to throw us curve balls. Challenges derail us. Insecurities assail us. Fears plague us. Satan deceives us. We grow impatient. We lose faith. We begin to forget the truth that God does have a plan for our lives. Somewhere along the way, we twisted our theology and thought that, because God called us to something, then it would be simple. And perhaps we even thought that it wouldn’t require from us more than we felt capable of giving. We take our eyes off of Jesus, much like Peter did in Matthew 14:25-33. Peter and his pals were in a boat, having gone on ahead of Jesus while He remained behind to pray. When Jesus was ready to catch up with them, He decided to take a walk to them–right on top of the water. Peter needed some confirmation that it was indeed Jesus coming towards them so he asked Jesus to tell him to come to Him on the water. Jesus told him, “Come.” Then Peter, like Jesus, walked on the water. But Peter shifted his gaze from Jesus and onto the surrounding storm and he began to sink. Jesus reached out and caught Peter, asking him why he doubted. Isn’t that what we do too? Jesus beckons each one of us to join Him in the work of fulfilling His calling and His purpose for each of our lives. Many of us jump right out of the boat like Peter, initially confident in the fact that Jesus did summon us. But then the winds start to howl and the tidal waves of life threaten to overtake us and we take our eyes off Jesus and His calling. We begin to wonder if He did call us. Perhaps we heard Him wrong. Maybe He meant this calling for someone else, who isn’t me. Sadly, we fall into the comparison trap, even in Christian circles. We wonder if our calling is as important as that person over there. We question if our skills and qualifications merit the calling. We measure our success by the world’s standards. When we do this, we short-change ourselves from God’s blessing in our lives and we short-change others because we don’t live up to the calling. Ultimately, it reveals a lack of faith in the God who calls us. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells us, “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
Regardless of where we are in life, God wants to use each one of us and longs to fulfill His purposes in us and through us. Maybe your current season of life is a stay-at-home mom or dad and you feel invisible or even unimportant. Maybe you spend your days cleaning toilets. Maybe you have made one poor choice after another and no longer feel like God could have a purpose for your life now. Maybe you are a high-level executive at a successful company. It matters not because God can and will use and equip every single one of us when we surrender our lives and our callings to Him. He does not compare. He views each as important as the next and can use every situation for His honor and His glory. We must determine to keep our eyes fixed on Him.
Our competence for any position we hold is in God. Whether we feel overqualified, underqualified, or just right, our competency is in Christ. The Greek word for “competent” in 2 Corinthians 3:5 is “hikanos,” and it means “to reach, attain desired end. Sufficient; worthy, adequate, enough.” Doesn’t that change our perspective a little bit on any given situation in any circumstance? Not that we are sufficient, worthy, adequate, or enough to claim anything for ourselves, but our sufficiency, our worthiness, our adequacy, our enough-ness comes from God. Whew! The pressure is off of us. What is it God wants from you today? What is He calling you to? Don’t let your gaze focus on the surrounding circumstances. Don’t let your thoughts deceive you and make you think it all depends on you and that you are not enough. Friend, your worthiness, your adequacy, your sufficiency, your enough-ness–it all rests on God’s shoulders. He equips the called. The called merely need only respond. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. Day-by-day. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus will use our weaknesses and make them sufficient. Take a step of faith today towards what God has been showing you. And I commit to do the same.