The tortilla delivery man rode his motorcycle up the steep road to Refuge Ranch. Alejandra, a cook here at Refuge Ranch, had come out of the kitchen and was buying a stack of tortillas from him. I watched from the bench in the small garden by the house. Recovering from some kind of virus, I was tired and weak and so I just sat and watched this microcosm of Mexican economic activity unfold.
I had been sitting on the bench reading a book, The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp. The book’s message was very applicable in my present condition of broken health. My wife Diann was dealing with the same illness and was toughing it out teaching the children in the school room nearby. The virus had gone viral here at Refuge Ranch with many of the children taking turns getting sick. I reflected on how brokenness and weakness seemed to be all around. Just an hour earlier, at breakfast, our daughter Julie shared, with tear filled eyes, some major struggles and issues she was facing with the family. She then told her mother and me that she had to focus on the immediate demands of the day. Soon there would be over twenty women arriving at the ranch from a nearby church, and Julie was expected to share something of God’s Word and truth with them.
Chilled by the morning air, I left the park bench and made my way up to the flat concrete roof of the warehouse and laid on my back. Covering my eyes with my arm, I absorbed the morning sun. Some of the women had now arrived and I could hear Julie’s laugh as she conversed with them. I knew it was a struggle for her to rise to this challenge of ministering to these women, given all that she was dealing with, and so I prayed. Lying there on my back in physical weakness I prayed for Julie’s brokenness and weakness, that the good Lord could use her in some mighty way with these women who were also broken and weakened by life’s struggles. As it turned out, the Lord did use her.
So often people picture missionaries in far off places doing God’s work because they are strong people who have their act together. Not so! All missionary work, including the work at Refuge Ranch, is most often done out of human weakness, not strength.
I share this to encourage us all, yes to encourage us! We can get the idea that because of some lack in our life, some past mistakes, some current messed up part of life, or just a general sense of not having our act together, that we are of little value to God. Not so! No great Bible character (other than Jesus) was perfect,and often they’re shown to be far from perfect, but God still loved them, forgave them, and used them!
God doesn’t disqualify us from being His person and being able to do something great for Him, we disqualify ourselves! All you and I need to do is turn over our sinful, imperfect, broken and weak selves to what little we feel we know and understand of God, and He will take it from there. As it turns out, God is really good at embracing broken and weak people who He will gladly help to carry out His wonderful will!
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Jesus to the apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9)