Ready For Use
By Erin Foster
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life. Since about 17, I have struggled deeply with anxiety and self-doubt; the past two years have been distinctly worse. I have been recognizing different areas of pain I have been running from instead of seeking healing for, and if I am being honest, life and faith have been pretty hard for me as well. I have put so much pressure on myself to be the world’s most passionate and effective street evangelist, when street evangelism is not even my thing.
Amidst this struggle of insecurity and grace-earning, of which is actually nonexistent, the Lord whispered something beautiful to me. A week ago, I was laying down to go to bed when I looked over and saw something truly ordinary, something I’ve seen every night before going to bed for years. On my nightstand, there is an old cup full of pens and paint brushes. I went to turn my lamp off and saw the brushes when the Lord whispered to me. I actually grabbed the nearest piece of paper and wrote down what I felt He said about who I am.
It reads as such:
“I am merely a paintbrush in the hand of God. When He chooses, I am available for use and for a very specific purpose. Sometimes, I will be placed in water to be cleaned up and rested for the next time. I am only the instrument, the tool. I don’t choose how and when I work. That is all up to the Lord. It is only my job to be available and spiritually clean before God. He does the work. Not me.”
This was important for me, even though I still struggle laying down the pride of my performance before the Lord. I needed to hear Him say that as I have been praying for Him to reshape my identity and heal my past hurts. I have put so much pressure on myself to work and witness for God that I have lost sight of why I do it. Nobody should testify of the Lord’s grace in their life because they are trying to earn it. Nobody should tell a friend about how sweet Jesus is while hiding in their heart the fear that He won’t be so sweet if they aren’t preaching, baptizing, and discipling. These sentences are difficult for me to write, because they are so backwards and anti-gospel. I have had everything backwards. Too many rules and too much religion. However, I am learning to spend time in God’s word and be in honest prayer. I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and talk with other believers who can bring some order and wisdom to my ever confused mind.
I have been thinking (while writing this) about the adulterous woman who was made to stand before Jesus in John 8. For too long I have listened to my inner Pharisee, condemning myself and judging myself as unworthy to receive the love of God, pushing it away. Do I have sin in my heart that needs to be dealt with still, just like the adulteress? Yes. Do I have emotional walls between the Lord and I that I need to continue breaking down? Yes. But Jesus sees this in me and stands with me in my ugliness. When the whispers of shame come to me, making me feel like if I don’t tell somebody about grace then I won’t receive it, God’s word shouts louder and protects me. The truth is that my salvation cannot be earned and that my self-righteousness does not count. It is rubbish compared to being in relationship with Christ and knowing what He has done for me (Philippians 3:1-8).
For now, I am still learning to let my walls down. I hope that in writing this that I do not sound like I have totally conquered this struggle, because I am very much still in it. I just have hope and know that this is not the end for me.
This is not the end of my story. God became a man for me to have a full and abundant life, and I am just a sinner that is seeking after it despite my failures.
When I am faithless, God is faithful.