During DTS lecture phase, our team went to Spokane, Washington, for a week of ‘mini-outreach’. This was to get our team prepared to work and live together in Thailand on outreach and for us to get a chance to serve in some cool ministries. We spent the first part of the week working with an organization called Youth For Christ and the second part of the week evangelizing and working with an organization helping refugees. It was an awesome and exhausting week!
One really cool thing happened within the first 24 hours we were there, before we had even gotten started doing ‘actual ministry’. The first night, we had a time of intercession and we asked God what His heart was for the week. The picture I got was of a yellow rose that was hanging upside down. It was dried out, brown, and brittle, yet still beautiful. I kept asking God what that could mean and saying, “Is that really you, God?” (ha, ywam joke) but I wasn’t getting much clarity. Finally, after everyone had shared and we prayed for a few more minutes, I felt like maybe God was saying the rose represented an older lady, who had served in ministry for many years, but felt dried up and poured out because of her many years of service. I got a vague picture of an old, very wrinkly woman that God wanted me to pray for and to encourage.
The next morning, about 12 hours later, we had some time to journal or read or do whatever we needed, so I went upstairs in the church we were staying at to be alone. I remember I was asking God to please make something that we put on the board the day earlier from intercession a reality. The skeptic inside of me was saying, “God, were you really giving us all random pictures yesterday, or was that just our imaginations?” After praying for a few minutes, some double doors opened from the parking lot and a person walked in. The person that walked in was a very old, very wrinkly (I’m not saying this to be rude, I’m saying this to be descriptive because it’s true) lady. She was wearing a yellow sweater. My adrenaline actually started pumping because I was thinking that she could be my yellow rose.
I went over to talk to her and found out she ran a program at the church called Meals on Wheels (a national program that provides meals for the elderly who may not be able to get proper meals on their own) and had been doing it for 10 years. She briefly mentioned how tiring the job was and how it was pretty demanding. This lady was probably over 75, cooked and served lunch for the elderly 5 days a week, and then mentioned that she had worked for almost her entire career in non-profit ministries. Combining these facts with her yellow sweater and wrinkles, I was jumping for joy inside because I knew I had found my yellow rose!
After a couple of minutes, I nervously told her about the picture God had given me the day before and I asked her if I could pray for her. She said that was fine and I prayed for spiritual encouragement for her and a couple of other things and that was it. It wasn’t some crazy supernatural experience where we began levitating or speaking in tongues or anything like that. It was just a simple conversation and a simple prayer, but God totally came through.
I fall into the trap, and I don’t think I’m alone, of being extremely skeptical and doubtful of God. What I’ve been realizing lately is that my doubts look like the question, “You really want to use me, God? You know all of the things I’ve done and all of the things I struggle with, surely you don’t want to use this ragamuffin,” (I just read The Ragamuffin Gospel so I had to find a place to throw that word in there). The truth is, when we start believing questions like this or thinking that we are ‘too far gone’ for God to use, we are basically telling God that He messed up and that His redemptive plan for all of mankind may work for everyone else, but not for us.
You don’t have to look very far in the Bible to find some pretty flawed characters. Moses had trouble speaking, Solomon worshipped the other gods of his many wives, David slept with his neighbors wife then had him killed, Jonah was extremely reluctant, Matthew was a tax collector, Paul murdered Christians, and the list goes on and on. In fact, there’s only one person in the entire Bible who didn’t have any flaws (spoiler alert: it’s Jesus).
From the very beginning, God set aside man from the rest of His creation. I think it speaks great volumes to the amount of love God has for us that even after sin entered the world, and after we continue to sin every day, He still chooses to use us as His chosen instruments to bring His name to the world (you see this all throughout the Old Testament as God uses prophets, and then most notably in the Great Commission from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20). I sometimes think, “Since we screwed it up in the beginning, why didn’t God just create something new to have relationship with?” or, “Why didn’t God use angels instead of humans to redeem mankind after the fall?”. I don’t necessarily know the answer to these questions, but how awesome is it that the Creator of the universe chooses to use us, as broken and beat up as we are, to proclaim His name, even though most of the time we defame it? That type of love is crazy. But that’s how awesome our God is.
God has an incredible plan for each of our lives. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He declares us worthy of His name. Immediately upon salvation, we are adopted as sons and daughters. I encourage you to not live in doubt and skepticism like I have for most of my life. If God is big enough and personal enough to use someone like Paul to become the greatest missionary to ever live, He is big enough and personal enough to use you and me as well.
I believe there are tons of ‘yellow roses’ out there that we miss every day. I think more and more of them will be revealed to us as we continue to walk with God and trust Him in all of our ways.