Saturday, October 13, 2012

His vessel

A few times in the last week I've had conversations with people who have had the experience of saying something to someone else that God used in a different way than was meant by the comment. Some innocuous comment to the speaker took on weight and heft and even changed direction for the listener.
And this has caused a bit of anxiety for the speaker. "But that isn't what I meant, and now they're basing their whole project on my words. My simple, abstract, "It might be nice, could happen," words.

And I've been in this exact situation this week as well. A friend wrote me a message on facebook that she'd shared with her husband a conversation we had during the summer--our crazy as all get-out summer.  And that conversation helped them talk to their adult son who was on the cusp of making a decision that worried them greatly. And you know, I can't remember a single word I spoke that day. NOT A SINGLE WORD. I remember floating in our pool together, remember talking about a whole cornucopia of subjects, but not the substance of them.

And my daughter, E, wrote an article for a Seattle newspaper in the spring that catapulted an organization to coming to Seattle with a large contingent of people from all over this country to do ministry. They always--only!--come to cities they are asked to come, and E's article, they believed, was their invitation. Because the article was written for the large (and secular) newspaper, E strove to leave her personal beliefs out of what she wrote. Neverthe less, they felt invited from her words. Now, when they come to pray, they always seek her out, want her involved, and, this time, were anxious to introduce her to the rest of the locals who have risen to the call of this ministry. And she's felt uncomfortable about it. Somewhat guilty, in fact, like she's been dishonest somehow, because she knows she hadn't intended to and didn't invite them.

E and I talked about this the other morning. And--amazingly, unless you know how God works--I had just that morning read a short devotional about how the Holy Spirit often confuses us when we go to share with others, and works in ways we never expect, speaks so that they hear what He intends, not what we think is important.

My point is, the work of the Spirit is sometimes in the ears of the Spirit rather than in the words of the speaker. We don't have to know what He's about. In fact, in some ways, it's not really our business, but His. If E got to be a vessel in the Spirit's call of this ministry, so be it. No matter what her motive, no matter how confused she feels now, He is not confused. He knows exactly what He's about--always. When she 'happened' across this ministry last spring in Asheville, North Carolina, He was ahead of her, making sure the one believer on that trip meet and interview and write such an article. He was beneath the top layer of her words, working in ways that touched who He needed to touch, so that His work was accomplished.

And often--perhaps more often than not--we don't even know when we share the one word a person needs for their exact situation. I wonder how many times we simply say goodbye at the end of such an interaction without realizing that the other's load is lighter, or that something is being stirred by the Holy Spirit.  Maybe He hides most of what He does from us so that we aren't too self-conscious or too puffed- up by our own abilities to say exactly the right thing in the right moment. Such work is His. We are always, only His vessels.

This is privilege enough. So the few times we are told what happens with our puny, unknowing (to us) words, we should be filled with awe. Even me? He uses even me for such a thing? WOW.


Pamela M. Steiner said...

I truly believe this happens much more often than we can ever know...the important thing is to be open to the Holy Spirit when we write, when we speak, when we have casual conversations, because we never know what God may be doing in another person's heart and mind at just that moment. It's an awesome responsibility to be a vessel of God...but if we are just living our lives and sharing what God is doing, somewhere, somehow, God uses those thoughts to encourage, motivate, and inspire others. Just keep being yourself! That's all He needs.

Kristina said...

When I was younger, I remember noting that the times I tried so hard to say the right thing or minister to someone, I don't know that it worked out. But other times, I just said something off the cuff and later someone would tell me that he/she was blessed by it. I don't think too much about how God works because I just don't know--it's a mystery--but I think it's amazing that He can use us in ways that we don't even know.