A Paradoxical Choice

Paradoxology is two words put together: paradox and doxology. A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

Scripture witness God calling and choosing unexpected people to fulfill a great mission. Moses is chosen to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites from slavery, despite his speech impediment and the sin of murder. God chooses David, a young shepherd boy, to be the next king of Israel. As God says, “I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7b, GNT). God seeks out the underdog and the under-known, the people whom others might consider nobodies.

Whenever I’ve stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me: ”Look at you. Do you think God could use someone like you after what you’ve done?”

Sometimes I measured myself against other people. “He is funny and clever. He is so educated. He is so connected. Who am I compared to all that?”

Gradually, I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with a carefully crafted image that looked just right. Polished on the outside — yet completely undone on the inside. Eventually, the Lord called my bluff.

Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple yet life-changing question: “Will you share your story?”

”Yes, I will share my story. The good parts. The parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable. But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.

Totally impossible. Absolutely impossible … in my own strength. When God gives us assignments that are so much bigger than us, it is because of His desire to reveal Himself to us. One recurring pattern in Scripture is God waits until it is impossible, and then He does the unthinkable so that no one is confused about God’s role in the matter.

He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, He kept whispering He loved me over and over again.

The first time I shared my story was nothing but an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. But God wouldn’t drop it. He met every one of my arguments with Scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His. I shared exactly what and how God asked me to share.

And then the miracle happened.

When I finished and dared to look up at their reactions, tearstained faces were looking back at me. People have connected with my story. It was their story too. In that moment, I finally understood the idea that “what Satan means for evil, God can use for good” like Genesis 50:20 tells us.

Paradoxically, it is in our brokenness that we have our greatest opportunity to reveal the heart of God’s goodness, and the greatest opportunity to strengthen each other.

Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan’s chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were.

At that moment, I felt victorious not in my power, but in the Lord’s strength and ability to use all things for good. Without that decision of obedience, I would not have been able to see how God wanted to work in the lives of so many people that night.

As Mary sung in her hymn of praise, “He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52, GNT). Yes, God even chooses Mary a teenager from an unknown town to give birth to the anticipated Messiah, Jesus. Even Jesus has unexpected circumstances. He’s not a king in a royal palace with a rod of power, but a poor baby born in a cave. He is even given the title of a shepherd king like his ancestor David. The Savior of the world is an unglamorous servant.

And the pattern continues through Jesus. The ones he calls to walk with him are not famous, they’re not wealthy, and they’re far from perfect. God chooses the working class fishermen, the sinner tax collector, the zealot, the stubborn Peter, and even Paul, a persecutor. God’s methods are radical. They’re unexpected.

The heroes of the Christian story are typically the ones humbled in their sin and poverty. These heroes murdered, committed adultery, and even denied knowing Jesus, but God’s grace somehow saved them. God loves the sinner who acknowledges her imperfections, not one who clings to his pride and self-righteousness.

Even our imperfection cannot stop God’s great project from unfolding. No matter how small or weak or hidden or unworthy we may seem to be, God chooses us. The disciple chosen to do great things is the unexpected one. The one chosen to show God’s mercy to others is the one to whom God is merciful.

This is the very nature of God. He chooses to love. He chooses humility and lowliness. We are watching the kinds of choices our God makes when we witness the behavior of Jesus. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important (1 Corinthians 1:28).

Thankfully I am not the author of my story. My story isn’t an autobiography either. My story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by another. Every turn he writes into your story is right. Every twist of the plot is for the best. Every new character or unexpected event is a tool of his grace. Each new chapter advances His purpose.

God’s plans are designed for a specific time and season. Nothing can derail them. Nothing happens before its time. God’s timing is perfect. He is never too early or too late. Everything is beautiful for its time.

I see an end but God sees the same circumstance as a fertilizer for the new to begin. God speaks (Ezekiel 37:14). Dead dreams come to life. For me. For you. For real. Hey you! Are you wondering if God will mlve in your behalf? I believe He is moving and doing 10,000 things in our life we can’t see. Just believe it so. But have the humility to praise Him when you have received it.

There is more

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