I think I have found them – the perfect prayer walk partners, that is. Today is one of those beautiful spring days, with flowers blooming (including plenty of dandelions) birds singing and sun shining. We met in front of the church for our weekly prayer walk, divided up and set out in different directions to walk the streets of this neighborhood, a neighborhood which has just recently experienced the trauma of brutal murders.
This morning however, all was quiet, even peaceful as we pursued a path down the streets that would take us to the location where a body had been found, so that we could pray over that place. We were an unlikely trio, perhaps, by the world’s standards – a young blind man, an older autistic gentleman and myself. The blind man led us, as he lives in this neighborhood and knows his way around. (I am forever directionally challenged, whether driving or walking) I have walked with him on several occasions and I always follow his lead.
What an interesting sight we must be to the casual observer – a handsome young man with a white cane tapping the ground in front of him, followed by a lady and a gray bearded gentlemen with a slightly unusual gait – walking and talking, not so much to each other, but to God as we make our way slowly down the street. This is a sacred time I look forward to each week.
Today the topic of who God can use seemed to be front and center. But the answer to this question was already apparent to me – I was walking with the answers! (and I was one of the answers, too!) God can and will use anyone who presents themselves to Him in obedience. He will use anyone who answers His call as Samuel and Isaiah did saying –
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10) and
“Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
The three of us had listened, like Samuel, and as a result, we were “sent” like Isaiah, into these streets to pray and intercede for all the people living in this neighborhood. What a sacred assignment! One none of us take lightly. We were not necessarily equipped beforehand for this task, but God Himself equips those of us who answer His call with everything we need. Today, once again, my prayer walk partners and I found this to be true.
God provided us many opportunities to pray with people we met as we walked today. What a privilege to pray for other people! What joy to be used by God to bless and encourage other people. The world considers blindness and autism handicaps. God does not see these things as disqualifiers or detriments to service to Him in any way. I think that’s because God sees things from a different perspective than our limited human perspective allows us to see these same things. This is made clear in 1 Samuel 16:7 –
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”
And indeed, our Creator is the only One who can see into our hearts clearly and accurately. That’s what matters most to God, the attitudes and motivations of our hearts, not our supposed handicaps. What our culture considers a disqualifying defect, our Creator views as an empowering asset, which can be used to bring much glory to our Heavenly Father. Case in point, the apostle Paul,
” . . . there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
God’s glory and goodness show up in our weaknesses, in our deficiencies and in our handicaps, as the culture calls them. It is often these very handicaps and our own weaknesses that force us to feel our need of God and allow us the opportunity to experience relying on Him, rather than on ourselves and on our own strength, which doesn’t really get us all that far. Seems counterintuitive to give God thanks for our handicaps, but that’s exactly what Paul ended up doing, saying – ” . . . I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
As we prayed our way through the neighborhood streets this morning, I thanked God for giving me two such wonderful prayer walk partners. As a blind man led us, determining the direction we took (you have to love the symbolic irony of that, I do) I was humbled by the powerful prayers of my autistic prayer partner, just as I was by the prayers of the young man who led us.
Today, I am reminded once again – God is not limited by my or by your human, physical limitations. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t even see our various “thorns” or conditions as limitations, but only as avenues for His love, grace, strength and power to be poured into our lives, enabling us to serve Him well. What others see as weaknesses, are the very things God uses to make you and me strong in Him. It is like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 –
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” –
then I read in Jeremiah 9:23-24 this –
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”
God can use each and every one of us for His good purposes, weaknesses, handicaps and all. Our very frailties are what draws us to Him – therefore His strength and goodness are made manifest to others through the very things our culture would tell us disqualify us from His service or from doing anything of value. Not so! We all have value and purpose in God’s kingdom. In our weaknesses, we receive His strength, so that we may say and truly believe –
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31)
sincerely, Grace Day