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  • Shawn Thornton

God Uses Ordinary People

Wednesday - May 19th

Scripture to Read Today: Acts 4:1-14


When they saw the courage of Peter and John

and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men,

they were astonished and they took note that

these men had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13

My mother, Beverly Mae Thornton (née Gilvin), was born on May 19th, 1947. Today would have been her 74th birthday. She went to be with her Lord and Savior in April of 2000 at the age of 52. Mom suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a car accident when she was fourteen years old. That injury left her with significant physical, mental, and emotional challenges for the rest of her life. If you haven't yet had the opportunity, you can read her story in my memoir, All But Normal: Life on Victory Road.

If people knew the depths of my mom's struggles when she was alive, they would have been surprised. She did an excellent job of keeping the extent of her struggles confined to within our immediate family. Even the folks of the church we were deeply engaged with had no idea of how severe her challenges were every day. In many ways, that is OK. She loved to serve and help others. She loved to be a part of the church's children's ministries, choir, and Bible studies. She volunteered to help others.

After reading my memoir, some have asked how she could serve with so many significant challenges. My answer is simple: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

The evening before my mother's funeral, we held a visitation time at the funeral home. Family and friends could come and share their condolences with my dad, my brother, other family members, and me. As long as I live, I will never forget what folks shared about my mother.

One woman told me that mom helped her learn to study the Bible on her own. Another said she came and babysat her kids one day when this woman learned that her husband had been taken to the hospital after an awful car wreck. Several people shared about how kind mom was to them when she first met them at church or some other setting. So many people told me that they believed God had used my mom at crucial junctures in their lives.

I was surprised. Now, I was not surprised that mom had served and that she had blessed others. What surprised me was the variety of ways my mother had gone out of her way to quietly and simply help others. She was an ordinary woman with incredible challenges who loved her God and served others in His name. My mother's story reflects a common theme of both the Old and New Testaments. God uses people others overlook or believe to be too damaged for Him to use.

In Acts chapters three and four, God uses the Apostles Peter and John to heal a lame man. They are arrested and thrown in jail because of the commotion around this miracle and their assertion that they did it in Jesus' name. In Acts 4:13, after chatting with Peter and John, the religious leaders conclude that they are ordinary men who have done an extraordinary thing. The verse reads, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."

They saw they were untrained and ordinary people that God used. Maybe you feel like there is no way God could or would use you to serve Him by helping others. Latch onto this significant theme in God's Word. It is the most broken and the most marginalized among us that God uses for His glory and the good of others!

If you feel like you have deserved to be on the shelf and unavailable for God to use, stop and thank God that He can and will use you! Look for ways to serve someone else - not through a program or ministry - just by helping them in their need.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Thanks for letting God use you!

God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things! Let Him use you!


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