I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me

Anyone who knows me knows that for better or worse, I am a planner, a list-maker, an over-achieving perfectionist.  In spite of my color coded post-it notes, volumes of topically organized handwritten notes, meticulous scrap books and perfectly arranged sock drawer, there are only a few things is virtually nothing in my life that is the way I envisioned it would be at this stage of the game.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just saying things happened in ways I didn’t expect.  Life can be like that.

The name of the first person who first sang the words “I’m gonna live so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime” is lost to history.  This song is one of many that people have learned by listening.  We do know that this song has been included in printed collections of hymns and spirituals for over 100 years.  While the song is in many hymnals, most do not include verses, only the chorus with a modification each time it is repeated: I’m gonna live/pray/work/sing so God can use me.

On first hearing, I thought the song was only about living “so that”, or in such a way that, God can use each of us.  Now it seems to me that is a shallow approach.  I do this so God can do that?  I don’t think so.  God’s responses are not limited by what I do or don’t do. The more time I have spent with this song, the more significance I see in the words live, pray, work, and sing.  These are all words of specific action, of movement, of journey.   I find it pretty easy to sing.  Work certainly isn’t a problem.  Prayer comes naturally to me.  But that word ‘live’.  Wow.  That’s the tough one for me.  To be fully alive includes trusting for God’s provision and guidance in my life, to let go of my planning and putting it all in God’s hands.  It’s not easy for me to put my planners and calendars aside.  Yet it is in the very act of “letting go and letting God” that I can become fully alive, and with God’s grace, allow the Spirit to work through me anywhere, anytime.

This YouTube clip is by Doris Akers, the writer of “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”.

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