I'm going through a devotional of prayers, "Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith"and yesterday's really struck me.
My thoughts first, then the devotional.
I work with the "least of these." Yet, every single one of these people, the non-verbal, the violent, the kids who can't count to...two.
Every. Single. One of these has made a contribution to my life! From the one who can make me smile on a very dark day, to the one who only sees the positive in life...from a wheelchair.
It struck me that Paul described Onesimus as "formerly useless." - what made him useless? and then...being with Paul, he's useful to both Paul and Philemon.
It was only serving Jesus, through Paul, that made Onesimus useful. No matter who we are serving, who we are teaching, who we ARE...if it's in service to the King, we are useful.
A Prayer about Formerly “Useless” People
Accordingly, although I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you— I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) (Philem. 8– 11)
Dear Jesus, what a great story these few verses tell— the story of how one man’s “useless” slave became another man’s beloved son. Stories like this make the gospel so beautiful and believable. I see myself in this story, both as Onesimus and as Philemon.
Jesus, thank you for not giving up on me, for coming after me when I was running away from you as fast as I could, just like Onesimus ran from Philemon.Overtly and covertly, I did everything I could to avoid you and ignore you, but you found me, you bound me to your heart through the cords of the gospel, and slowly but surely, you’re changing me. The journey from slavery to sonship hasn’t always been easy.
Jesus, I also know what it’s like to be Philemon. I’ve been failed and I’ve been hurt. I’ve been betrayed and suffered loss. But forgive me for labeling anyone as useless. Paul saw something in Onesimus that Philemon didn’t see. Jesus, you saw something in me that no one else saw. Please give me your gospel eyes to see what you see in others: broken people just like me.
Who have I branded “useless,” with either my actual words or unspoken words? Who have I written off? Who have I renamed “failure,”“worthless,”“you’ll never amount to anything,” “never to be trusted again”?
I know you’re calling me to be wise, but I also know you’re calling me to love others as you love me. None of us is beyond the need of your grace and none of us is beyond the reach of your grace. I pray in your chain-breaking name. Amen.
Smith, Scotty (2011-09-01). Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith (Kindle Locations 1059-1076). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.