Use Me

In the same week, Bill Withers passing away and Pope Francis addressing the world on the current pandemic led me to think the same thoughts. Then I realized I could work Doc Holliday into this blog. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you get how my brian works.

Bill Withers is most noted for his song, ‘Lean on Me,’ an incredible song of inspiration which he wrote after he had moved to Los Angeles and found himself missing the strong community ethic of his hometown. A very close second in my rankings is ‘Use Me’ from the same 1972 album, ‘Still Bill.’ They were his two biggest hits. He came up with the song, ‘Use Me’ while working as a mechanic making airplane parts.

I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh, you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

In Pope Francis’ sermon he noted that God will use whoever is willing to be used. He said, “look at the real heroes who come to light in these days… they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.” Then he added the line, “feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line.” In other words, open up to being used.

Those heroes are the healthcare workers who risk themselves and their families by going into pandemic war zones each day to care for patients they have never met; they are grocery workers and delivery personnel who would be safer at home but who are working to keep us fed and cared for; they are neighbors who are checking on neighbors, those with resources who are donating to those in need, those who are seeking ways to love and care for others each day.

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.” – Stevie Wonder

If we are to be used as an instrument of God, then we need to be open as to where, when and how. Think about it, tools are created to make beautiful and purposeful projects at the hands of the craftsman who uses them. Like tools, we are here to get dirty, beat up, chipped, and possibly broken. Tools do not pick and choose where and how they will be used. We may sit idle in a toolbox or the garage for a period waiting to be called. Eventually when the right tool is needed for the right job, the craftsman will pick it to be used for His purpose. The finished project will often outshine and outlast the tool that created it. William James said, “the best use of life is to invest it in something which will outlast life.”

“I’m your huckleberry” is a line by Doc Holliday from the 1993 movie Tombstone. Doc Holliday was a folk hero, gunman, gambler, dentist, and best remembered for his role in the shootout at the O.K. Corral. “I’m your huckleberry” was an actual slang term from the 1800’s, essentially meaning, “I’m the right man for the job.” The expression is typically made in response to a need; “Name the place, and I’ll go with you,” “Name the job and I can do it,” or “I’ll oblige you.” In the movie, Doc uses the line to inform Jim Ringo that he was accepting his challenge. It has been claimed that Mark Twain named Huckleberry Finn for this idiom, as Huck Finn’s role was the sidekick and willing companion of Tom Sawyer.

One of my personal favorites of men being used by God is Stephen. Stephen is one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to the poorer members of the community. Stephen is noted to have been full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He challenged the members of the synagogue and defeated them in debate. In a long speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts, chapter 7), Stephen appealed to the Jewish scriptures to prove how the laws of Moses were not subverted by Jesus but, instead, were being fulfilled. He criticized his audience, such that they could not contain their anger and stoned him to death.

In Acts 8: 26–40, we find an account of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip had just preached the gospel in Samaria, when an angel told him to go south to a road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip didn’t ask why he was being sent to the middle of nowhere; he just went. On the road was an Ethiopian eunuch returning from Jerusalem and reading the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” God then used Philip to lead the man to faith in Jesus. The eunuch’s heart had been prepared to receive the gospel and at just the right moment God brought Philip across his path. As a result, the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” and brought the good news back to his people. Many Ethiopian Christians today trace their church history to this man.

These accounts reveal the importance of a human evangelist. For a person to accept the truth, he must first hear the truth preached (Romans 10:14). St. Francis of Assisi Is inaccurately attributed with the quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” It is also inaccurate because St Francis did use words, lots of them. He was widely known for his preaching, with sermons being delivered in the open air of piazzas and pastures. St. Francis never sought to elevate action over speaking in the task of bringing the Gospel, but neither did he believe that Gospel was only a message to be communicated. Francis recognized that the Gospel was all consuming; he preached in ways that pointed to active participation

It is a cop out to not use words. This quote is a quick and lame excuse for not practicing personal evangelism. Many Christians who love this quote are often scared of sharing their faith with others. 1Peter 3:15 says, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope”

Steven and Philip were God’s laborers in the field, His tools, His right men for the job during the early church. We need to be God’s right instruments for the job at hand, His huckleberries… and we need to use words.

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