Recently, my English students responded to the prompt, “What type of weather represents your personality?” Now, I really try to journal with my students, but I often struggle to get out from under my grading to take part. But this prompt was different. I really wanted to write about this one, or did I? Literally seconds into my journaling, I realized that I was not a sunny day, or even a soft blanket of snow. My life-long loathing of certain parts of my temperament came flooding back, and my best answer was a storm, yes with lightning, maybe a bit of hail? Ouch. As a few of my students and I discovered— or were reminded—personalities can be complex. Sometimes, we might even wish we had a different one altogether.
When I consider my own temperament, I often question why God chooses to use seemingly difficult dispositions to accomplish his plan. Well, we may never have the answer to that question this side of heaven, but there is good news! The fathers and mothers of the faith were human too—personality flaws and all. The Bible shows us that God uses all his children for his Kingdom purposes— whether we view the glass as half-empty or half-full, whether we are outgoing or shy, whether we go with the flow or like things to stay the same. And, as we’ll soon see, even when we stumble and fall into sin, God works through us then too.
Relating to Those Who’ve Walked Before
I have certain traits, tendencies, weaknesses, and sins I would like to change in myself. I long to be more content. I wish I didn’t have a tendency toward despair. I desire to be rid of my fear of failure or rejection. I’ve confessed my selfishness with David who mourned: “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me…As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40: 12,17).
I too have doubted God’s power to use me, as Moses did when he asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). I also have chosen fear over faith as Peter did when he said, “Woman, I do not know him,” “Man, I am not (with him),” and even, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about” before the roster crowed (Luke 22:56-60). And I share in Paul’s lament, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Roman 6: 15, 18, 23).
God Promises Transformation
But there’s good news for my lament! The beauty of the Bible is the backdrop of the gospel. God not only saves us by his grace; he also transforms us by his grace. He makes us new creations. This transformation is certainly not easy; no pruning takes place without pain. There are growing pains to the Christian life, and true redemption requires sacrifice, a continual dying to self. When I have blinders on, when I don’t believe God can use me, when I fail to take “every thought captive,” I can look at the examples of those who God used in Scripture and see God’s hand at work in and through human weaknesses, failures, and sins.
Not only did David repent of sin, but God promised his son’s kingdom would reign “forever” (1 Chronicles 17:12) as the line of the long-awaited Messiah. Despite Moses’ fear of public speaking, God used him to not just deliver a message to Pharaoh, but to also lead thousands of people across an impassible sea he parted with a staff. After Peter’s miserable and predicted denial, God tells him, “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Amidst Paul’s despondent words is the promise that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28). We can see God’s amazing grace at work in each of these heroes of the faith. And his grace is at work in us too.
While I may continue to mourn my own weaknesses, my disposition and personality, and my sin this side of heaven, these members of the hall of faith remind me that not only can God use those who are weak, but that he also delights to do so. I take great joy that God’s promise of “My strength is sufficient for you” is not only true for David, Moses, Peter, and Paul, but for me as well.
Whatever our failings, whatever our temptations to sin, whatever we desire to see changed in ourselves, let us remember that God is at work in us, making us new, and he will use each of us for his Kingdom purposes.
About the Author:
Jessica Roan has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Montana State University-Billings. She is a high school English teacher, mentor and blogger. She can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org. She enjoys writing, hiking, skiing and traveling. She lives in Billings, Montana with her husband and two boys. Her home church is Rocky Mountain Community Church.