For me, growing up in Sunday School was more frustrating than inspiring. Each week’s lessons gushed with biblical heroes, champions of God, each more grand than the others. It wasn’t as though I didn’t believe these accounts—I did. It was just their heroic deeds didn’t compute in my underachieving world.
I squirmed when hearing about David dropping Goliath or Daniel surviving the lions’ den. They seemed more fictional than real, more make-believe than true. Elijah at Mt. Carmel and Moses at the Red Sea intimidated my barren bio-sheet. Don’t get me started with Noah and the ark, Gideon and his 300, Ezekiel and those bones, Solomon’s summa cum laude counsel, Jonah’s big fish, Joshua’s demolition derby, Samson’s strength, Paul’s insights, Peter’s charisma, Stephen’s boldness…
Stop! My heart can’t take it!
As I aged, each new story brought a greater distance between me and the characters pictured on the Sunday School walls—all of whom were larger than life, but none with whom I identified.
You see, whereas we all have our unique gifts, my gift was my comparative ordinariness.
“C’mon, Lord, give me someone with whom I am able to connect! I want Bible characters who aren’t listed in Who’s Who, but in Who’s That? I want men and women long on faith but short on pedigree; average Joes whose abilities are small while God’s isn’t. I want heroes who’ve not been portrayed by Charlton Heston. I want champions Hollywood never has known.”
God answered by giving me hundreds of little-known heroes of the faith—MVPs in sheep’s clothing, such as:
• Shiphrah and Puah—two midwives who dared to defy Pharaoh because they answered to a higher power.
• Bezaleel—a simple architect to whom God gave the job of a lifetime.
• Ehud—used by God for no better reason than he was left-handed and available.
• Shamgar—though mentioned only once in Scripture, he still had time to kill 600 Philistines and save Israel.
• Asa—a son of godless parents who became a godly king.
• Tychicus—a courier who delivered holy telegrams.
• Asahel—a fleet-footed sprinter with a tenacious heart for his king.
• Hushai—a covert counselor for David who successfully infiltrated enemy ranks.
All were comparatively ordinary people whom the world might call nobodies, but they were nobodies “of whom the world was not worthy.”
The truth is, I’ve discovered God chooses ordinary people far more often than not. Maybe that’s because there are so many of us to be chosen.
For example, none of Jesus’ 12 disciples brought credentials into their roles. Most came from modest backgrounds with little distinction, an eclectic collection with run-of-the-mill talents. None had a theological degree. Not one fit the mold of rising religious star. Yet they became the chosen vehicles to carry Jesus’ timeless message.
The one possible exception within that fraternity was Judas. From the world’s perspective, he might have been the most promising of them all. He had a keen business mind and contacts in high places. He was financially shrewd. He was motivated, ambitious and responsible. He flashed signs of resourcefulness and ability—but for all the wrong reasons.
For Jesus to leave His entire ministry in the hands of 12 ordinary men was a gutsy move. What if they failed? What if they forgot? There was no Plan B. What a risk He took!
Twenty-one centuries later, He is doing it again—leaving His work in our hands. What are our credentials? Super heroes? Mega stars? Hardly! Just men and women who routinely find ourselves on our knees acknowledging our complete inadequacy and utter dependency. Sounds like an overwhelming task, huh?
That’s because the One who called us also has given a sure-fire recipe to complement our comparative ordinariness: Take a big bowl, pour in our weakness, add His strength, stir and serve.
“Is it good,” you ask?
No, not good. Just perfect!