9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact,I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.
10 But whatever I am now,it is all because God poured out his special favour on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (NLT)
We may sometimes be tempted to think God has chosen us to serve him and others in his world because of our present or potential strengths. God is a talent spotter. He sees things in us that he can use and develop and so invites us to be part of his purposes.
There is some truth in this. God does encourage us in our talents and grants us competence so as to do his work. He does not see us as worthless rubbish. And yet it is perhaps a more profound truth that he chooses us because of our weaknesses. He looks around for some weak person and settles on that person. Why? Because such weakness will prompt such a person to depend more on his power.
Paul knew this well. His weakness was his strength because it compelled him to lean more on God. He had no intrinsic merit of his own: quite the contrary. He wasn’t what we call ‘a nice piece of work’. But God infused him with his grace. He used his weakness and dependence in such a way that he did mighty work for God.
Then as now our God,in the words of Ignatius of Loyola,uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines.