Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Weirdos


Recently, during a conversation with a close friend, he asked why God would choose someone like him to adopt. I think he expected me to answer differently than my response of, "Because God loves the weirdos and has always liked working through them."

All one has to do is look at the cast of characters in the Bible to see that this true. Both Old and New Testament. He works with the broken, the dispossessed, the fringe, the outsider, the forgotten, the abandoned, the strange, the freak, the damaged, the weak and weak-willed, the ill-tempered, the lustful, the power hungry, the loud-mouthed, the introvert, the thick-headed, and thin-skinned people that had often had absolutely nothing going for them except they heard His call and said, "Yes."


"You did not choose me, but I chose you," God reminds us in John 15:16.  Growing up, I was an short, awkward, shy, introverted, skinny, and non-athletic child. I hate gym, especially when the coach had us line up, he picked two captains, and then let them choose their teams. This was in the day before teachers believed in building a child's self-esteem. I hated being on that line. I hated waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting to be chosen. I can't dribble a ball. I can't shoot a lay-up. So they knew that and they chose, and I waited. The captains were like Samuel going to Jesse's house to pick the next king of Israel. Like Samuel, the boys chosen to be captains would've picked Jesse's older sons who bore a striking resemblance to Thor and not the scrawny, puny David. Or the pitiful, puny me. Not once did I ever hear a coach tell the two captains before they picked, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his structure, because I have rejected him." But God does not see us as we see ourselves. He doesn't see what we have to offer, but what He can offer through us if we are willing to be obedient.

As someone who has never been used to be chosen, I stand there before God and ask, "Why would You pick me?"

I am insignificant and deeply aware of my sinfulness, my selfishness, my fears, my loneliness, my hurts and self-centeredness. "Don't You see those things God?  Aren't there others who would be better at doing Your will than I am?"

"Yes," He would say, "I am very much aware of exactly who you are. Not the one you pretend to be, but the one that would be run out of church if they ever really saw your thoughts, even the ones you have during church."

He chose me and those other weirdos precisely because we bring nothing to the table. Precisely because it is not about us, it's all about Him. We can bring nothing to God and He can bring all to us. It is what He offers, not what we do. He offers a radical, unconditional love and an all-encompassing grace.

That is why He chose Abraham, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Saint Francis of Assissi, C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa. Not because of their worthiness but because of His own. He has no illusion about His creation. He sees past our hateful feelings towards ourselves. As Brennan Manning wrote, "God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be."

God sees how feeble my prayer life can be, how limited my faith can oftentimes be in its shakiness; about how I am often filled more with doubt and shame than belief and holiness. The only thing consistent is that I am inconsistent. He knows that I too often ponder the imponderable. I wrestle with Him. Struggle with Him. Question Him. Doubt Him. Disobey Him. But always return to Him like a child who needs his Papa. I love God not because of anything in me but because, as Saint Augustine wrote, "That you may love God, let Him dwell in you and love Himself through you." Even my love for God is all God. I am not even capable of truly loving him as I should.


Like Peter and Judas, I have often betrayed Christ. I have doubted more often than Thomas. Yet like Peter and Thomas, I have also realized how desperately I need to cling to His grace. I don't deserve His love and His grace, yet He freely gives both to me. My identity cannot rest in what I think of myself, but in how Jesus sees me through that love and grace.

That is why He called me to adopt. That is why He called me to write this blog and to keep writing it whenever I consider stopping because I oftentimes feel like a fraud. It's all Him, not me. The words I wrote that have touched others are His words. This path has been His path for my life and my family's.

He chose me because I am an outcast who can understand and love other outcasts, especially the orphan. My wounds cause me to reach out to help love them in theirs. I am more like my adopted son than most can ever realize. I was a lonely child who understands what it was like to not be picked, or to spend more time by myself, in my own imagination than in the company of my peers. I know what it's like to be bullied and picked on for no other reason than you are small and quiet. I know rejection, even by a mother. But I also know the truth that Henri Nouwen wrote that, "Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God's loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us."

God sees my brokenness and shallow faith and still says, "I choose you." But He has chosen me to move beyond me into His purpose to reach the place of others' needs. In my prodigal way, I follow the path of His grace and trust that He will not only lead me, minister to me, heal me, love me, but use me - an outcast, a misfit, and a weirdo.

Why?

Because those are the ones who will reach out to the other outcasts, misfits, and weirdos. Only then will it be as Ephesians 2:19 says, "And so you are no longer called outcasts and wanderers but citizens with God's people."





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