Posts Tagged ‘weakness’

I cannot really strengthen my inner being on my own. About the only thing I can do with that part of myself is work toward discovery. This place is where the Holy Spirit joins with my own personal spirit. And that kind of strength within is a gift.

Ephesians 3:16
I [Paul] pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, . . .

Because I have such a terrible tendency to start projects and peter out, I’m much more tentative about long term commitments than I used to be. I know myself that much. I have started and stopped diets, exercise programs, methodical housecleaning, vegetable gardening, interior decorating, and a score of hobbies. In most cases, I go great guns for awhile and then, eventually, the enthusiasm dwindles and I am stuck with half-done projects or worse, I am further back than I started (one step forward, two steps back).

Fortunately, my prayer life and time with God has held a certain amount of consistency that heretofore has been missing. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the more stable uses of my time and energy. All the same, this relative success has come from a certain determination along with a greater imparting of grace from God.

I believe I will need something more now to step up to the next level, to integrate and implement the truths I have uncovered these past three years, I will need a different kind of strength and power from within. I don’t believe that more prayer or more reading (as in physical exercise) will necessarily give me the power/strength I seek or require. It would be an error on my part to think I can pull myself up to this next stage of devotion and submission to Christ.

Read Full Post »

What is my weakness? Is it my besetting sins or lack of will power? Is my weakness in my aging body that can no longer do what it used to do? Is it my fears? Is it my lack of resolve? Does it matter?

II Corinthians 12:9a, 12b
But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”. . . when I [Paul] am weak, then I am strong.

Another enigma to chew on today. What is weakness and what is strength? Why is weakness held up to be a good thing? Isn’t it weakness that opens a door to people hurting me, either physically or emotionally? Won’t people take advantage of me if I am weak? Won’t I be chastened for not carrying my share of the burden?

Who proclaims weakness as a good thing? That’s crazy!

Or is it? How many times have my “strengths” gotten me in more difficult circumstances? How many times has my confidence become pride? How often have I tripped while running too fast, like a little kid at the pool?

St. Paul was a natural in the “strength” department. At least, that’s how he started out. He had money, power, education, and ambition. He was a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” He was undoubtedly being groomed for great things.

When he was called into the ministry of Christ, these attributes of his had to be shed in order for him to experience more fully the power and strength of Jesus–a different kind of strength. Not Paul’s way but the way of Jesus, the way of paradox, the unexpected path, the narrow road.

We are not called to be like Paul. We are called to be like Jesus. And what does that mean for each person . . . for me?

The appearance of strength is not strength; nor is the appearance of confidence, the real thing. Underneath all of the bluster is weakness. It’s not like I have to “become” weak to be strong in Christ. I already am. I just have to be willing to reveal it.

Read Full Post »

For those who read my meditations regularly, you know I am intrigued by the sweep of paradox in scripture. Strength in weakness is one of the most difficult concepts to put my head around since the display of strength is my security blanket.

II Corinthians 11:30-31
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.

Back in the day, I worked with a small group of friends to build an avant garde dance theatre company in New York City. These types of projects are always a bit “hand to mouth” and poorly funded. It can be very stressful. I was in charge of the finances (using mostly my personal funds) and the administration of the company in addition to working full time and going to school. After a year of this, I was at the breaking point. At one of our meetings, I confessed, I was falling apart inside and I couldn’t continue to be the rock anymore. They would not allow it. “You have to be strong. We depend on you to be strong.”

And then I knew we had, all of us, put our confidence in the wrong thing: my strength and confidence That kind of strength is an illusion.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. [Psalm 18:32]
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. [Psalm 46:1]

But God cannot arm me with strength or “be” my strength as long as I continue in the “world’s strongest woman competition.” I have to believe in the promise. I have to be willing to reveal my weakness and only then will God’s strength be visible. My strength is a mere veil to the real thing.

Some of the tools:

  • Be willing to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Choose silence.
  • Acknowledge the successes of others.
  • Accept mistakes.
  • Forgo the praise of others.
  • Relinquish control.
  • Embrace the feelings.
  • Open the heart.
  • Submit to outside circumstances.
  • Build trust.
  • Pray.
  • Respond to the Holy Spirit.

It is one thing to talk about paradox but it’s another to actually live it. This takes a great leap of faith. It’s time to jump.

Read Full Post »

Moment in Time

John 9:2b-3
… “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life…”

It’s a hard thing to accept, that my current circumstances might be meant for a particular moment in time where God desires to acccomplish something specific.

I’m a “fixer.” If someone has a problem, I’m out there with a laundry list of solutions. I rarely consider the possibility that God might want the glory for a particular “fix.” Oh, intellectually, I can say that everything is for the glory of God. But honestly, if I have a headache, I take a pain-reliever.

It’s all well and good to put it into a sermon that “in my weakness, I am made strong,” [2 Corinthians 12:10] but walking that out is much more difficult. I have never admired weakness… not in myself or in others.

We’re back to trust again. I’m reading Shaine Clairborne now, “The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical” and he shares several good quotes. Among them this from Mother Teresa, “We are called not to be successful but to be faithful.”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: