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“Here I am, Use me”

A seed is planted For a long period of time, 20 years or more, I taught Sunday school to pre-school age children. It was what I loved…it was where I was supposed to be…it was what I was called to do.

However, somewhere along the line; I can’t even tell you exactly when the Lord planted a new seed within my heart…a seed that would grow so large that I couldn’t ignore it.

Each day, God watered that seed…He prompted, He nudged, He nourished…and the seed began to grow.

Little did I realize that this seed was not a seed at all…it was a “calling.” It was my calling! It wasn’t something that I thought about from time to time, it was something that God kept speaking to my heart about…something that was consuming me.

That calling was to teach children…not the tiny pre-school children that I had taught for years...older children!

Of course, I had all kinds of excuses as to why I shouldn’t make this move…but God is patient…He waits!

He doesn’t barge in…He waits for the door to open…even if it is only a tiny crack.

And I was getting ready to “crack open the door”…without even realizing what was happening.

I HAVE A QUIET PLACE I have a quiet place…it is on my front porch with lots of open space and trees surrounding each side of our property.

It is a place where I can sit…and listen…and pray with nothing to distract me…except for a squirrel…or a deer…or a passing critter of some sort.

It is quiet…except for the birds…the crickets…or the tree frogs.

Each day…without fail…I see something new and exciting. I call these moments my “God…is here” moment. Because I know that no one in the whole world can see what I am seeing...God sent this moment just for me.

THE INVITATION One morning, with my Bible and notebook in hand, I went out to spend a little quiet time with the Lord.

As I sat in my rocking chair…praying for God’s will in my life, I spoke the words that I will never forget. “Here I am God, Use Me, whatever you want me to do, just tell me, place it upon my heart and I will do it.”

The door was now officially cracked open… The invitation was given… God accepted…and answered quickly!

GO…TEACH MY CHILDREN! “Go teach my children” the answer was quick…the challenge was plain…the doubt was gone. I knew what God was calling me to…I just didn’t know the “How” in all of it.

“Here I am God, use me, are words that you should never pray unless you are fully prepared to see the mighty hand of God at work. Be prepared for doors to be opened, paths to be cleared and mighty things to happen. It is not our place to question…it is our place to be obedient to the will and calling of God.

Say yes, and let God do the rest!

THE HOW I continued to sit there, praying, asking God questions like “How," "Where will I serve," and "What would I do?"

I spent a lot of time searching for answers…waiting for God to speak. Finally, it occurred to me that our church did not have Children’s Church up and running at that time. Perhaps this was where I am supposed to serve.

Soon, I was making plans, thinking of possibilities, thinking about the how’s and the why’s and all the other stuff that goes into starting a new ministry.

We had recently built a new Worship Center and plans on what to do with the old one were unclear at the moment. Perhaps we could build a movable in-expensive facade across the front of the room to give it some appeal.

Soon my thoughts started to take on a life of their own as I began to draw a picture of what the set might look like.

When I was finished, I thought …. “Ok, there are possibilities…now what”?

The drawing was the easy part, but the next part would be much harder for me.

I was going to have to take this plan and put it into action. I was going to have to talk with the Pastor…present the plan…talk about the possibilities...and sell the need for starting Children’s Church again.

Now, most people would probably not believe this, but I am…(or was at that time) an extremely shy person. I could speak with children all day long…I could teach them and act silly…and do funny things…but getting in front of adults…or older children was a HUGE challenge for me.

Speaking with the Pastor was going to be an extremely difficult thing for me to do.

But I didn’t need to worry because God was already at work!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED After my initial brainstorming “talk with Jesus moment”, it took me a few days to work up enough courage to talk with the Pastor.

I guess I thought that perhaps God would change His mind…. But He didn’t.

For the next two or three days, God continued to speak with me…. Have you gone yet? Are you going or not? What are you waiting for?

To stop the voice (God speaking) in my head, I gathered up my courage and I went to speak with The Pastor.

I presented my ideas to him, showed him my drawing and laid it all on the line before I lost my courage.

And then I was met with the words that I was probably hoping to hear all along.

#1 “I had a couple come in just a few days ago asking about starting up the Children’s Church again.”

#2 “I love the design, it looks great, it’s a great idea but right now… we have to concentrate on paying off the debt from our new building.”

RELIEF As I drove from the church, I was a happy camper… “Ok Lord, I don’t know WHY you had me do all of this, but I did it! I don’t know WHAT I am supposed to learn by all of this, but I am sure there was a lesson in it all!”

Although I was puzzled as to why God would have me do this, I was content. I felt like a big burden had been lifted from me. I had a peace that felt good

Perhaps I had misunderstood God’s desire. Perhaps I had made my desire seem like God’s desire. Perhaps I was totally off base.

But was I in for a BIG surprise!

Spoiler Alert: I found the reasons for everything that I experienced that week. God was getting ready to teach me a few things… 1. God’s plans are ALWAYS bigger and better than ANYTHING I could ever imagine. 2. God is ALWAYS in control. 3. When God calls you…He will equip you. He will never leave you on your own. 4. When you answer God’s calling He will work through you to accomplish His will…in mighty ways. 5. If you accept God’s calling…fasten your seatbelt. 6. God will give you abilities and talents that you never knew you possessed. 7. God will open doors that you could NEVER open yourself. 8. If you make God’s will…your will…you won’t be disappointed with the results.

PROMISES KEPT Two short days after my meeting with the Pastor, I received a phone call from my son in law, who served in the outreach ministries at his church.

He informed me that they were going to be doing away with their bus ministry. They were going to switch things up a bit and instead of bussing the kids in, they were going to take mobile units out to all the neighboring apartment complexes…reaching children differently.

The reason for his call? “We have a set designed by “Wacky World” that we are going to tear down and we want to “GIFT” this set to you if you can use it!”

GOD SHOWING UP IN A BIG WAY! Now keep in mind, my son-in-law knew nothing about my little talk with God. He knew nothing about my meeting with the Pastor, he knew nothing about my desire to teach older children, he knew nothing about my desire to start a Children’s Church, he knew nothing about the set that I had designed. He knew nothing… but I sure did!

I knew that God had sent me to the Pastor to plant a seed and when I obeyed, God did more than plant a seed, he planted a whole garden.

Of course, I got on the phone with The Pastor immediately. “Remember the drawing that I showed you”? I asked. “Well, what would you say if I told you that we can have a “Free” set just for taking it down and hauling it off?”

The Pastor was excited about the set and asked me to gather up a few people from the church and go check it out.

MIND BLOWING The very next morning, we met my son-in-law at his church.

When he opened the doors, we were blown away. These sets were not plywood facades, they were full-fledged 10-20’ tall buildings. Not just one…but an entire room full of them. Our first reaction was “Wow!”,

This reaction was followed by many others; “There is no way we could ever get these buildings moved”,

“These buildings would never fit in our space,”

“We could never get enough people here to help move these sets,” and on and on and on the excuses went.

Having lots of excuses but unwilling to accept defeat just yet, we decided to call the Pastor. Pass the buck if you will! We wanted him to drive down, take a look and make the final decision.

When he walked into the room, his eyes were huge! He had to sit down for a while and think about this awesome opportunity.

We tossed around a few ideas, looked to see if we could cut down some of the props to fit our church, checked to see if we could find a place to store them until we had a place available, and even contacted another church to see if perhaps they could take a couple of the pieces.

Finally, it was decided that we would take them.

Our second challenge was that we had to get the sets taken down, removed from the building and the whole area cleaned up within three days.

We gathered up volunteers, trucks, and trailers, and although it seemed like a huge undertaking, everything was done within the three days.

For over a year, the props were stored in a warehouse. While a long-range planning committee studied our facility capacity, demographics of our area, and various other important determining factors.

Once all of the research was collected, the church voted to turn the old worship center into a fully inclusive children’s wing. The wing would house Sunday school classrooms, children’s church, children’s choir, AWANA, and other children's activities.

FULL CIRCLE Although this testimony alone is a wonderful example of how God can use an ordinary person to achieve extraordinary things, this is not the end of the story.

After my first initial meeting with the Pastor, I was approached that very next Sunday by the couple who had talked with him about starting the Children’s church.

“We don’t want to teach children’s church,”…they said, “We just need one for the children and we were willing to teach. We want you to teach”

This was the completion of God’s vision. God’s plan fulfilled.

There were many others that God could have used, many who would be much more qualified than I am.

But how many are standing up and saying “Here I am, use me?”

By simply making myself available to be used by God, God took a tiny act of obedience and used it to bless our church in great ways. He took a spark and turned it into a raging fire.

He took something that I could never have dreamed of... or ever accomplished on my own... and increased it many times over.

Far more important than the sets, is that our Children’s Church has been a reality for many years.

We have had close to 100% of our children accept Christ before leaving our department.

God can use every single one of us. It doesn’t matter how old we are, how young we are or even if we have a handicap. God can; and will use each of us if we allow Him to do so.

And let me assure you, that if you make yourself available to God, He will send you but He will not desert you. He will be with you every step of the way and He will equip you for whatever task He has in mind.

Final Words I have been in the Children’s Ministry for over 35 years. Approximately 15 of these years have been spent leading Children’s Church and the last 10 have been as both Children’s Director and Children’s Church leader. It has been an amazing journey. One that I WAS called to do.

I truly believe that God calls us to minister to certain people for a certain amount of time...and then He may send us on to serve somewhere else.

He works through us and reaches people through the gifts and talents that He has given to us. He teaches us, grows us and sends us out again.

Always listen for the call of God. It may start out as a small whisper…a passing thought. But God will water it…and grow it…and He will send you out again.

NEVER be afraid to leave an unhealthy situation in search of what God has for your life. If your church is going in a direction that you feel is unhealthy…or even out of alignment with God’s teaching…start praying about what God has for you. It is ok to leave an unhealthy church.

However, when you leave that unhealthy situation DON’T QUIT serving…simply start seeking where God wants you to serve next.

Seek God’s will…let God ALWAYS lead the way…keep God in the center of everything you do…and remember you are not on this earth to please others. You are on this earth to please God.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10.

May each of us stand up and say “Here I am, use me”.

And may God receive all the praise and all the glory.

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