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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Usefulness in the Hands of God

This past summer, my daughter took me to see “Toy Story 3" --in 3D. She worked at the Prytania Theater which was awesome because it is a great place to watch a movie. The movie is about Andy, a boy who is now seventeen years old, but was younger in the first two movies. Yes, I quickly grasp the obvious. Now Andy has outgrown his old toys. Some of them have been sold, given away, or thrown away. The others have been stored in his toy box. Andy is getting ready to go to college and we get to eavesdrop on the conversation between the toys. Stay with me here–I know that toys really cannot talk to one another.

Anyway, the green army guys see the handwriting on the wall and Sarge and the rest them escape out the window to avoid getting thrown away. Andy decides to take Woody with him and packs the other toys in a garbage bag, intending to store them in the attic, but Andy's mom mistakenly puts the bag out on the roadside as garbage. Believing that Andy no longer wants them, the toys sneak into a box to be donated to Sunnyside Daycare. Woody, who saw what really happened, tries to clear up the misunderstanding, but the others refuse to listen. The rest of the movie is about toys trying to be with someone who wants them.

The reason I remember this movie as I ponder how we can trust that we are useful to God, is because the whole Toy Story series is basically about our fundamental need to be needed. The toys cannot come to grips with the possibility that their days of being valuable and useful have gone. They cling to a desperate hope that someday the boy who needed them will need them again.

We humans are like that. We worship God and are amazed that He would send His Son so that “we would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We who follow Christ have accepted His gift of grace and are humbled by the great sacrifice that made us whole. But wouldn’t it be nice if He needed us for something? Wouldn’t it be great to be useful?

I can only imagine the stories that the owners of a donkey told after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Before Jesus entered into Jerusalem for the final time as a man, He sent disciples ahead to procure a donkey colt to ride on in order to fulfill a prophecy (Mark 11:1-6). Jesus told the disciples that if anyone asked, they were to say, “The Lord has need of it.” What a powerful statement. Not to compare us to a donkey (too easy, I’m not going there), but for it to be said of Allen, “The Lord has need of Him” would move me into a whole different confidence as I journey through this world as a follower and proclaimer of Christ.

Psalm 139 is our text this week. The Psalmist has a thought that perhaps he is useful, that he was created for a purpose. Even then, He glorifies God as he declares,

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

We are useful. We are tools in the Hands of the Master who will use us to make Him known and to visit the lonely and to soften the suffering in our world. I am thankful and humbled that He would use me.

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