Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-20, Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:1-22
I never wanted to join the circus. And yet, here I am, breathlessly perched on the tightrope of terrified obedience. It’s that narrow road we’re called to walk as followers of Christ. The stakes get higher when our faith in Christ compels us to go and to do, to serve and to minister, knowing we don’t have what it takes to do so on our own.
As we read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy, we can squint our eyes and see him walking on the tightrope ahead of us. As he describes his qualifications for ministry, it’s clear Paul knows how unqualified he truly is.
It was Paul, after all, who approved the persecution of Stephen. That event was the spark that ignited a raging fire of persecution among God’s people. While the Church wept and wailed, “Saul… was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3).
Put that on your Bible college application.
Based on Saul’s resume, there’s not a single one of us who would pick him to teach the gospel, encourage the saints, plant churches, spearhead missionary journeys, and appoint church leaders. And yet, God Himself described Saul (a.k.a. Paul) as His “chosen instrument” (Acts 9:15).
This is the seemingly upside down way of our sovereign God. He never calls us into kingdom work because we are the most fit, the most prepared, the most gifted, or the most popular. He doesn’t ask us to do things that we could easily do in our own strength and power.
Instead, He invites us out onto that tightrope where we know we aren’t qualified, where we must trust His Spirit for every step. A life of ministry and obedience can feel scary because we know we cannot grit our teeth and do what is required on our own. We aren’t capable of reaching a lost and dying world or serving selflessly in our own strength. We can’t generate enough elbow grease to produce faithfulness on our own. Our resumés are just good kindling in God’s economy.
That reality can paralyze us. And yet, when human eyes only saw Saul’s failures, God looked at him and saw future faithfulness:
“I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).
While we tend to evaluate our qualifications based on what we see in the rearview mirror, only God is able to see our forward faithfulness. In His sovereignty, He knew that Saul was too weak and sinful to surrender and serve, but He also saw the coming tsunami of grace that would sweep Saul away from his rebellion.
The next time you look at the ways God calls you to live, love, and serve, thinking “I can’t do this,” know that you’re right. We can’t walk the narrow road on our own. May the gospel steady our feet as with eyes on Jesus we dare to take the next step toward future faithfulness.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.