As a writer, I often wonder, “If I were tasked with writing the Bible — the story of God’s interaction with humanity since the beginning of time — who would I pick to be the leading characters of that story?”
I think I’d cast people who were brave, people who didn’t falter, didn’t fail, didn’t fear, didn’t doubt. People with charisma, people with strong leadership skills, people who were articulate and able-bodied.
And because that’s how I’d write the story, I’m flabbergasted by the people God actually picked to do his bidding. Because most of them were flawed, fearful screw-ups, the most unlikely of heroes.
One of the most unlikely heroes in the Bible is Moses. The Israelites have been held in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years, and it’s time for God to choose someone to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let My People Go.”
But God doesn’t pick a silver-tongued orator to deliver the critical demand. God chooses Moses — a shy, insecure guy who stutters. And even Moses recognizes he’s not the best guy for the job, and essentially tells God, “This isn’t a good idea!”
And yet eventually, Moses does go to Pharaoh and says, “Let My People Go.” Pharaoh resists, and so Moses has to say it ten times, but in the end, Pharaoh concedes and lets the people go.
I realized recently that maybe God didn’t choose Moses in spite of the fact that he stuttered; maybe it was because he stuttered. Because Moses was used to repeating himself over and over again, because the words never came out right the first time.
I think it’s easy to believe that God uses us in spite of our flaws, in spite of our failures, in spite of our doubts, in spite of our mistakes. But what I’m realizing is that more often, God uses us not in spite of but because of those flaws.
When I look at my life, I realize that I met the Invisible Girls on that train in Portland not in spite of the fact that my life fell apart when I had breast cancer, but because of it. Because I never would have moved to Portland if my life on the east coast hadn’t fallen apart. And I never would’ve recognized the desperate look in that Somali mom’s eyes except that’s the look I had in my eyes, too, when I landed in Portland with just clothes and a broken heart, wondering, “How do you start over after that?”
God uses us because of our flaws, because of the things in our lives that seem to go “wrong,” because of the losses we suffer.
Maybe it’s because that way, when God shows up, there can be no denying who the Hero of the story is. Maybe it’s because our weaknesses give us the humility to obey God’s marching orders. Or maybe it’s because these cracks are where the Light shines through.
I don’t know exactly why God works like that, but I’m confident that God does. It gives me hope. And maybe it can give you hope, too.