When Feeling Like a Nobody Can be a Very Good Thing

David Burchett
David Burchett

This week the life odometer clicked over another year. No matter how hard we try we cannot roll it back. Part of acquiring higher mileage is gaining some hard earned perspective on your life decisions. Some decisions were good. Some benign. Some not so good. Some truly regretful.

That is life.

The encouragement I have discovered is that even the really bad decisions can be redeemed by the grace of God. D.L.Moody was one of the greatest communicators of the Gospel in church history. A great Christian university bears his name. One of my favorite Moody quotes is about the learning curve of Moses. Moses ended up having a fairly decent impact for God.

“Moses spent 40 years thinking he was somebody; 40 years learning he was nobody; and 40 years discovering what God can do with a nobody.”

I have to adjust the numbers for my life. I spent 40 years thinking I was somebody. Twenty years learning I was nobody apart from the grace of God. I now am looking at (fill in the blank someday) years praying and seeking to see what God can do with a nobody.


This is not about groveling in self-loathing. Far from it. It is simply acknowledging the liberating recognition of our dependence and need for God.


All of us have a purpose. Here is an excerpt from my new book Stay about purpose. My canine friend Hannah understood who she was and lived out of that identity every day.


Hannah was predestined to swim, run, and retrieve. That is the destiny of any retriever. Hannah does not try to be anything else. Even as a puppy, she chased anything we tossed her way and eagerly brought it back. We did not have to spend one minute training her. It was as natural as breathing for Hannah. Retrieving was her purpose and passion.


That was the lesson for today from my four-legged mentor. I have also been created with a purpose. In fact, every person has a God-designed destiny whether they believe it or not. Henri Nouwen wrote about living with that frame of mind."We seldom realize fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. . . . We act as if we were simply dropped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do."


Living out of who you are is liberating. The apostle Paul had some thoughts about such a life when he wrote to the church at Ephesus.


God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT)


Think about that! You were rescued from the death of sin by grace. It was a gift that could not be earned. And you are a new creation, indeed a masterpiece for whom good things were planned from the beginning of time. How can followers of Jesus possibly have self-image issues? When we believe the lies.

Taken from Stay by Dave Burchett copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.


Don't believe the lies. The irony of God's plan is that we become important when we quit thinking we are important. Moses is a great example of what God can do with nobodies who are trusting and willing.


Read the first chapter of Stay:Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace by clicking this link.

Originally published April 08, 2015.