The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. [Acts 4:13 (NLT)]
The new 007 movie has been released and, as usual, James Bond defeats a sinister plot. If we were picking someone to save the world from an evil mastermind, Bond would appear to have the right qualifications: sophisticated, brave, patriotic, expert in martial arts and marksmanship, observant, and intelligent. Moreover, to ensure the success of his mission, the Secret Service’s Q Branch always provides him with well-equipped vehicles like the amphibious Lotus that could spray cement from cannons and launch missiles from its rear end. Q also supplies him with weaponry, not just his Walter PPK, but also guns concealed in pens, cigarettes and ski poles. Additionally, he’s furnished with an array of devices like booby-trapped attaché cases, jet packs, poison pens, homing beacons, and fake fingerprints.
God, however, is not the British Secret Service and his heroes are much less obvious. Take Peter and John, for example. What qualifications did two humble unschooled fishermen have to preach the gospel? Then there’s Gideon—he’s threshing wheat and hiding from the Midianites in a wine press when God selects him. Even Gideon describes himself as the weakest link in an already weak family; surely, he wasn’t qualified to defeat an army. Consider Moses, a Jew raised in Pharaoh’s court and an escaped felon with a speech impediment. Why would the Jews ever listen to or follow him? Esther was just an orphan with a pretty face who married well; she couldn’t even approach the king without risking her life. How capable was she for the task of saving the Jews? Then we have Saul, a tentmaker by trade who originally set out to destroy Christianity. What qualifications did he have to spread the gospel? This cast of characters doesn’t look anything like people who could change or save anything or anyone. Yet, change and save they did.
The British Secret Service may choose extraordinary men like James Bond for their missions, but God picks ordinary people for His and then makes them extraordinary. Like the Secret Service’s Q Branch, however, God equips those chosen with all they need. It wasn’t an Aston Martin, but God gave two Galilean fishermen courage and knowledge enough to amaze even the Sanhedrin. One wrote a gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation and the other became leader of the Apostles and provided the foundation for the new church. No rocket launchers went to Gideon. Instead, God gave him confidence, guidance and a little band of 300 men who overturned an army 400 times their size. To Moses, He gave the ability to perform miraculous signs as proof of his God-ordained mission, the necessary words to speak and Aaron to speak them. The tongue-tied criminal became the most important figure in Judaism. God supplied the beautiful Esther with courage, a shrewd plan and a series of events that played into that plan. Now, every spring, Jews throughout the world celebrate the way she saved them from extermination. After God supplied Saul with a new name, Paul, a life-changing conversion, and the Holy Spirit, the tentmaker was equipped to spread Christianity to Jews and Gentiles alike.
Like Gideon and the rest of this cast, we have more than our share of faults, limitations, doubt, and fear. Rest assured that when God calls us to a task, he will provide us with whatever skills or tools we need. He doesn’t always call the equipped, but He will always equip the ones He calls.
Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well. [Alexander MacLaren]