Carol Tudor was my Sunday school teacher when I was in second grade. She was a fun, energetic teacher when I was seven, and through the next several years, she continued to be an encouraging person in my life.
Last week, I had the joy of getting to see and reconnect with her for the first time in about fifteen years. We chatted like old friends, sharing the high and low points of the past decade and a half with each other. We exchanged cell numbers and promised to keep in touch. Without a doubt, that half hour was a treasured gift from the Lord.
Mrs. Tudor is a health care professional, and somewhere along the line, our conversation turned to health-related issues. She shared some research with me and offered to give me an over-the-counter supplement at church that evening.
When I met up with her a few hours later, she gave me instructions on the supplement, reiterated how glad she was we had crossed paths, and parted with the admonishment that I actually stay in touch. “Call me in two weeks—I want to help you.” Then she said two sentences that I’ve never heard someone say—and mean—in that context, “I want you to use me. I mean it.”
As I walked away, I knew she meant it.—“Use me.”
We often ask the Lord to use us, but we don’t often mean it—not like that. We want to be useful, but we don’t really want to be used.
When we start feeling used, we back away, certain that we don’t deserve to be taken advantage of.
But when Mrs. Tudor said, “Use me,” she meant it—for real. How do I know?
Because even as an elementary and junior high student, I watched her life say “Use me” to countless needy people. She didn’t know it at the time, but her willingness to be used—even to the point of making herself available to be taken advantage of—made a deep impression on me.
She said “Use me” as a second grade Sunday school teacher…and she thoroughly prepared and enthusiastically taught a group of young girls every week. I’m pretty sure she never had the gratification of watching any of them leave her class as theologians, but she faithfully prepared and taught anyway.
She said “Use me” as a friend to me, a fifth-grader, a few years later…and she gave up two evenings just to be an encouragement. She knew I was going through a difficult time and shared from her experience concerning a similar situation that she had encountered many years previous.
She said “Use me” to her aging, terminally ill parents…and then cared for them both right up through their final minutes. She probably doesn’t even know it, but I went to their funerals and was instructed through her example. I was also instructed through the book she wrote about their marriage—which I read when I was in fourth grade!
She said “Use me” to her friend, employer, and mentor, Mrs. Marlene Evens…and cared for her through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and intense suffering.
She said “Use me” to scores of college girls…and then poured her time and energy at their disposal and into their lives.
In all of these cases, Mrs. Tudor said “Use me” to people who would likely never reciprocate. So when she said “Use me” to me last week, I believed her.
And I felt convicted that sometimes when I say “Use me,” to the Lord, I really mean “I want to have been made useful, but on my own terms and when it is convenient for me.”
I’m pretty sure though that “Use me, Lord” actually means “Use me.”
Use me at my expense.
Use me in the lives of others.
Use me on other people’s need schedule.
Use me even if I never have the gratification of feeling useful and needed.
Use me however You choose and whenever You will.
Use me. I am wholly at Your disposal.