Peace When We Feel Unqualified

I was standing in the hallway in between my kids rooms, head buried in my folded arms.

Both kids were in timeout, having the most epic of meltdowns.

I’m talking throwing things at the door and hysterical crying fits with intermittent shrieking screams.

I was literally praying that I could just make it until Daddy got home.

And then my phone buzzed.

“Just wanted to let you know that we unanimously voted for you to be the speaker for the conference.”

Don’t you love God’s comedic timing?

I rejoiced for a few minutes, more like seconds, and then the heavy weight of responsibility came pressing on my shoulders. “Now, I’ve gotta do this thing, without sacrificing my current responsibilities: being a mom and a wife and a travel agent and a blogger and a friend.”

The collision of two of those callings- the chaos of motherhood and the carrying of a message from God- stirred up that unsettled feeling in my soul.

“You can’t do this. You can’t carry everything you need to carry and be everything you need to be. You aren’t enough.”

Gotta love that old friend, Self Doubt.

No matter how many times you try to kill that thing, it rears its head every time you are called to walk the terrain of uncharted territory.

For weeks, I just felt overwhelmed, questioning if I really could do everything and be everything I knew God was calling me to be.

Y’all, I’ve sat through so many talks and read so many verses about how God’s going to do what He’s called you to do, how His power will be sufficient.

But when I find myself staring right into my insufficiencies again, the tension still resurfaces.

I often have to relearn to be at peace with this truth about God’s character:

He always calls us to live from our lack.

Gideon was no stranger to this tension.

…Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:11-12, NIV).

Scholars believe that “the angel of the Lord” is actually a manifestation of God Himself (note verse 16 shortens the description to, “And the Lord said to him”).

So Gideon’s story begins with the very best thing: The Lord is with him, in a literal, tangible way.

Perhaps my favorite part of this story is the setting, particularly what Gideon is doing.

Gideon was threshing wheat when God called him to be a warrior. Gideon wasn’t gearing up on the battlefield. He was threshing wheat in a winepress.

The calling to be a warrior couldn’t have felt more foreign to what he was currently doing, and the adjective ‘mighty’ was far from his perception of who he was at that moment. In verse 15, Gideon says that his family is the weakest clan in their tribe, and he is the weakest in his family.

In other words, he views himself as the weakest of the weak.

But God doesn’t see him that way. He addresses him as “mighty warrior.” God doesn’t address Gideon as who he currently is, but who he will become.

That was true for Gideon then, and it is true for us now. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see us in the present. He sees us as who we will become. Our identity isn’t determined by who we presently are. God doesn’t ignore the current facts; He simply delights to call us up into who we were made to be.

That is a beautiful truth for people who feel unqualified and incapable.

But Gideon completely misses God’s calling on his life in that moment. He is too concerned with doubting God’s presence.

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian (Judges 6:13, NIV).

Oh the irony, Gideon! God has not abandoned you; He is the very person to whom you are speaking! And more than that, He has not abandoned His wonders; He will never abandon them. He is about to work one within you.

I so thank God that He is not deterred by our mistaken perspectives and lack of faith.

God, so full of grace, replies, Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you? (Judges 6:14, NIV)

How God can drop a treatise of truth in two sentences never ceases to amaze me.

He always calls us to go in the strength we have.

We go in the strength we have because God didn’t need our strength to begin with. He will use His own strength and His own power to do the work as He always has done.

He doesn’t need us, but He invites us into assignments as a part of His story.

But these assignments are not based on our strength. Strength is not a prerequisite for calling.

God redirects Gideon’s focus from his strength to his God-given purpose when He asks, Am I not sending you?

We don’t need to know how the strength for the task will be provided. All we need to know is that we’ve been sent.

Stop asking God if He’s with you. He’s already told you that He is in His word. You’re sent.

Stop asking God if you’re qualified. You’re sent.

Stop asking God if you are capable. You’re sent.

Stop asking God if you will be able to muster the strength for the task. You’re sent.

Somehow, by the Spirit’s miraculous work in us, believing we have been sent is itself the very strength we need to complete the task. It’s not the physical, tangible display of power we need because God will provide that at just the right time. But believing we have been sent gives us the spiritual stamina to see our calling all the way to completion.

If you feel like you’re being called into something you are not, you are in great company.

Remember Abraham?

God called Abraham “father” when he was an old guy (literally the Bible says he is as-good-as-dead old) with a barren wife.

It was literally a laughable calling (see Sarah’s reaction).

But this is the God in whom Abraham believed:

the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that are not (Romans 4:17, NIV).

The call is always to things we are not because the story isn’t about what we are; it’s about who God is.

Instead of being overwhelmed that we are not enough, we find solace in the call to go in the strength we have.

Peace always comes as we trust.

When we feel unqualified and incapable, we can trust that we don’t need strength. We only need believe we’re sent, and great peace will wash over our souls.