Being Gumby

You’d never know it now, but when I first met Pete, almost 40 years ago, he was a shy, introverted nerd. Really. Oh, he was sweet and kind, and smart and fun, but he seemed unsure of himself, and a tad socially awkward. Much later I happened to see a bumper sticker that summed him up quite nicely:


(He was an engineering major, but you get the idea.)

I later learned that he had managed to make it all the way through elementary school actively avoiding being in front of the class and giving an oral report. No “show and tell.” No “current events.” It was an impressive accomplishment.

1978 - Pete Holzmann.tifFast forward a few years. We were married. Pete was working for a high tech company in Silicon Valley. He was slowly learning to speak up in meetings, to have a bit of confidence. Lately, he had started volunteering his free time to some local ministries, helping with simple tech-related issues. But he was still very much an introvert, and still had trouble addressing more than one or two people at a time.

It was this Pete that God called into ministry. His words were quite clear: “I am going to use you to help the body of Christ around the world learn how to work together in practical ways.”

Pete’s first thought was, “But I don’t know any Christian leaders, much less international ones!” This was quickly followed by, “And if I’m going to help them work together, I’ll have to talk to them! I might even have to stand up in front of a group!”

The idea was inconceivable. But (and I love bragging on my husband!) Pete told God yes, in spite of how unsuited he felt. Pete gave God permission to make whatever changes were necessary so that he would be able to fulfill this call.

Sometimes, all God wants is our permission.

God did make changes. Major changes. It started with a series of phone calls from people we didn’t know. They were all ministry leaders, and they all wanted to get to know Pete. Clearly, God was at work.

gumby twistThen He started in on my nerdy sweetie. Pete says he felt like Gumby, being pulled this way and that, reshaped according to God’s plans. Those verses about the potter and the clay took on personal meaning. Pete has now spoken in front of large conferences, in front of 5,000 people at a time. Over the years he assumed a variety of leadership positions, first in the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, then in our own ministry.

Are you longing for God to use you? Perhaps He has given you a specific vision, like He did Pete. Or maybe you just want to serve Him in some way, as I do. But when you look at your personality, or your resources, does it seem impossible?

I told you Pete’s story as an example of what God can do in our lives, no matter how farfetched it seems. He’s quite aware of our strengths and weaknesses. After all, He made us. We don’t have to be perfect before He can use us. We don’t even have to feel like the “right” person for what He has in mind. All we have to do is say yes.

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