I go to a Chinese church, as many of you know. The church has a thriving English-language ministry, and my family is pleased to be involved with it. But even the English ministry is almost entirely people of Asian descent. My family makes up roughly half the non-Asian population of the church. More on this in a minute.
One weekend a few Decembers ago, there was a message given entitled “Willing or Ready?”. Being that it was the Advent season, it looked at Mary’s willingness to accept God’s call for her life, even though we can certainly say she was not ready from a practical standpoint. How often do we postpone doing something because we don’t feel ready? The point of the message was, if we are willing, God will make us ready. He is more interested in our willingness than our readiness – our availability more than our ability.
It was a powerful message, and not just for me. We can feel unready to do anything new. I think the church at large is often paralyzed by this phenomenon. Given the choice between stepping out in faith (scary) and doing nothing (comfy), we naturally tend toward the latter.
About that time there was a shortage of people to play on the worship team. I guess a lot of people were out of town for the Christmas holiday. So they asked me to fill in. Oh, did I mention… this was not the English worship team? Well, music is music, right? I enjoy pretty much any opportunity to play, so I said yes. Well, did you know that not all Cantonese worship music is adapted from English songs? So there were some I didn’t know. And, as it happened, they wanted me to play keyboard, which is definitely not my strong suit. I didn’t realize it when I said yes, but I was definitely not ready!
Well, it wasn’t the first time I’d ever stumbled through a set. All in all, it seemed to go all right, and I didn’t give it much thought afterward. But I heard later that someone said I had encouraged them, just by playing there. Apparently my willingness without readiness was a good object lesson to back up the sermon. And you thought I was just incompetent incidentally!
Bottom line – it comes down to choosing. It’s not about how strong or talented or capable or “ready” we are. It isn’t about us! Where we are weak, God’s strength is seen. And where He needs to make us more ready, He will do it in His time. Take a look at these oft-quoted words from Joshua 24:14-15, quoted here from the NASB:
Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth… choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
It says, “we will serve the Lord”. It doesn’t say anything about readiness! May we do the same.