By Tyler Warner, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville
As a pastor, I talk to a lot of people, giving counsel or encouragement. One of the mysterious parts of my job is seeing what actually sticks, and what does not. Often, a throwaway comment will redirect someone’s life, while the carefully-constructed arguments fall flat.
In the book of 1 Samuel, we meet Hannah; a barren woman, miserable over her lack of children. Desperate, Hannah goes to the Tabernacle and begs God for a child, offering to give him up to the Lord in exchange. Eli the priest sees her praying in her distress and mistakes her for a drunk! He tries to have her removed, until she explains her situation. A sheepish Eli then says, “Go in peace, and let the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him”.
I have had moments like these, when I’ve given the wrong message at the wrong time, only to apologize with something that feels feeble and bland. Eli did not see Hannah for two years – perhaps he blamed himself! – until she arrived at Shiloh with her little boy, named Samuel. “As you live, my lord,” she said, “I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.” While Eli no doubt looked back on how he had ministered to Hannah as a total failure, God had used him. Despite of his lack of tact, God confirmed His will for Hannah’s life through him. That child became one of the greatest of Israel’s prophets and leaders, going on to one day anoint King David himself.
Have you ever had a conversation with your child and lamented that nothing you say ever sinks in? Have you tried to share the Gospel and felt like you totally bungled the opportunity? Take heart. You never know who you’re affecting. What feels like failure could in fact be just the opportunity God needs to do His work. You may have someone come up to you one day and thank you for something you said or did that changed their life. You’ll think to yourself, “Really? That meant something to you?” You never know what good God can do with even your errors.
Because it is God who works through us, isn’t it? I can’t heal someone’s heart or save someone’s soul – but He can. All He asks me to do is to be faithful. So just do your best: speak out, show comfort, bring correction if you need to. It may feel like a waste of time, but the Holy Spirit is at work through it all.
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m., at the Hilton-Garden Inn on 3230 Edwards Lake Pkwy. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 2:30 p.m. on 101.1 FM.