Have you ever had the thought, “God wouldn’t possibly choose me, I’ve messed up too many times in the past”? I believe many of us disqualify ourselves from being used by God because we think He is only looking for perfect people who have it all together, when in reality quite the opposite is true! The Bible is full of people with less-than-favorable moments in their history who are featured as main characters in HIS Story! Let’s look at a few of them:
Paul was a zealous Jew who took pride in persecuting followers of Jesus in the early days of the church. He had people dragged from their homes, beaten, and thrown in jail because they were Christians. He even looked on in approval as the apostle Stephen was stoned to death. He had a larger-than-life reputation for being someone you didn’t want to cross, yet God specifically chose Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentile world, establish churches, train up leaders, and write a large portion of what we know as the New Testament. If God can use someone like Paul, surely He can use your past mistakes for future good!
King David is known for many things - defeating Goliath when he was just a boy, being anointed as future king over his better-equipped older brothers, writing many of the Psalms that have inspired people for centuries, ruling Israel and establishing a kingdom that would foreshadow the coming of Christ. But...there was also that one little “incident” with Bathsheba, which led to an unplanned pregnancy, a desperate attempt to cover up the truth, and when that didn’t work, the death of an innocent man and child.
This blemish on King David’s life is ugly, and it reveals that even the most godly people can have moments of weakness and make terrible mistakes with devastating consequences. The lesson we can learn is that David was grieved over his sin and repented when confronted by the prophet Nathan. His actions brought strife and a generational curse from God, but it didn’t disqualify him from fulfilling the plans God had for him. David is called a man after God’s own heart because he continued to seek the Lord’s favor throughout his life. Even after a grievous error in judgment, we too can turn our hearts back to God and receive grace.
How about Jonah? God gave him a specific message to preach in Nineveh and he went the opposite direction to get away from Him! Can you relate? When a violent storm threatened to capsize the boat he had boarded, Jonah knew it was God’s way of getting his attention, so he told the terrified sailors to throw him overboard. Guess he spent his 3 days in the belly of the giant fish thinking about what he’d done, because as soon as he was back on land, he was ready to obey God’s command. I’m thankful God gives us second chances when we get it wrong the first time!
Peter loved Jesus, there’s no doubt about that. But he was also prone to recklessness, impulsive behavior, speaking before thinking and decisions we all know he regretted later. He was one of the first disciples Jesus called and was in Jesus’s “inner circle”. This is the guy who walked on water with Jesus and was commended for his declaration of faith. And it’s the same guy who cut off a soldier’s ear, whose outburst spurred Jesus to say, “Get behind me, Satan!”, who swore he would never abandon Jesus before denying him three times.
Thankfully, Jesus saw Peter’s potential and loved him despite all of his lapses in judgment. Peter’s passion and zeal for God needed to be disciplined and shaped so that he could become the rock who would later serve as a pillar of the early church. He does the same with us, smoothing out the rough places and shaping us into His image until we are equipped for the tasks He has in store for us.
There are so many others I don’t have time to write about - Moses, Rahab, Joseph and Mary Magdalene to name a few. Time after time, God chose people who didn’t have a flawless track record to accomplish great things and demonstrate His power. There is hope for you, too, no matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter how many times you’ve gone astray. Surrender your story to Jesus and ask Him to make something beautiful out of your mess.