Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disqualified for Ministry

Last Wednesday I had to go to my chemo appointment. Since Kendra is back at work, I've been having some "substitute" caretakers join me for my treatments. This week my grandfather came. A large part of my testimony of how I came to know God and why I'm able to respond to the cancer they way I am, is due to my heritage. My grandparents have been colossal examples of lives lived in high definition and service for their Lord. 

My grandfather has dedicated his entire adult life to service and ministry. He and my grandmother founded a ministry called Eagle Village that started as a boys home, and grew to become a nationally recognized treatment center for at risk, abused, and neglected boys and girls. Over the years foster care, adoption, family ministry, and a Christian camp were all born out of this. After thousands of changed lives, an honorary doctorate, distinguished recognitions from governors, judges, and the like, it is easy to see that God has blessed their efforts. 

However that's only half the story. My grandfather has little more than an elementary education. He was born to a coal mining family in PA as poor as you can be. He grew up in rough neighborhoods and lived a hard childhood. Tragedy and circumstances were stacked against him. He served in Korea and came home looking for a purpose. From worldly standards there wasn't a lot that would've qualified my grandfather to be a leader.

As we drove down we talked about different things but quickly the conversation turned to ministry and life. This was precious time that we both were obviously savoring. Grandpa candidly shared with me things he thought he did well at Eagle Village but also shared things he wished he'd done different. Despite all of his success Grandpa felt unqualified most of his ministry career. He felt not smart enough, not wise enough, not articulate enough, not political enough, whatever the reasons he often felt like God could do more with someone else. 

I can relate right now. I'm getting a little bit of attention from people because of my situation. However I feel very unworthy of the attention. I'm human just like everybody else. I'm making mistakes just like everybody else. However I can clearly see that God is using my story in a big way. It's one of the things that makes dealing with all of this worth it. I know God is at work. I just don't know why? There are so many other people he could be using that would do a better job.

That's how God works however. As 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

You see only in our weakness can God be glorified most. Whether it is a stuttering Moses in the desert, an uneducated poor boy from Pennsylvania, or a cancer-stricken 25 year old, God can do more through us in our imperfections than through our strengths. 

I often tell folks I feel like God is working in spite of me not through me. Paul shared similar feelings about a physical ailment he had in 2 Corinthians 12. 

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I've thought long and hard about why God would choose to use my grandfather in such a powerful way. Honestly it was twofold. My Grandfather was obedient, despite his insecurities, failures, and doubts, he still obeyed when God called. The second reason is Grandpa was the man for the job. God doesn't look at us outwardly he looks at our hearts. 

What disqualifies us for success in the world may be exactly what qualifies us for success in God's eyes. I couldn't be prouder of my grandfather and his "disqualifications" because it just points to the greatness of our God all the more. I only hope and pray that I can do the same in my own weakness.


j.spears said...

Psalm 119:74 & 79
"Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word...Let those who fear you turn to me; that they may know your testimonies."

I read this the other day and thought of it again while reading your blog. Thanks for hoping in the Word and letting His testimony be known. :)

SVB said...

Ryan, this is one of my favorite posts. With love for the Lord, a willing heart, and obedient life God can use people to do great things for Him. It makes you think of the disciples doesn't it? I appreciate your insight and your life. May God continue to use you for His glory.

Earlina said...

Ryan, thank you so much for being so transparent but even honoring your Grand Father this way, he and all of us are so blessed to see where your strength comes from. Seeing the new perspective the Lord gives, helps us keeps our eyes on Him so we won't miss the blessings through tough times.
There's a song that makes me think of what you wrote about. Selah, Unredeemed-But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord, Just watch and see It will not be unredeemed

Anonymous said...

Dear Ryan,

Just want to share a prayer. Deb Pless

Thy name is my healing, O my God and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All Knowing, the All-Wise.


Ryan said...

Thanks guys! I can't tell you how much we feel blessed by all of you.