thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Weakness, Strength, and God’s Power

power-and-weaknessFor the past couple of week’s I have been thinking about a provocative question that was raised by Pete Wilson:

“What is it that you are doing this week that you cannot do apart from the power of God?”

Last week I found myself in the midst of two situations (believe me I was in many more of these kinds of contexts but I was deeply aware of my limitations in these particular ones). On Thursday morning, in partnership with the Pregnancy Resource Center of the South Hills, I stood before a group of 8th graders at South Park Middle School to present the first of three classes on sexuality. The forty five minutes before these students were some of the most painful I have ever experienced as a teacher and communicator. I tried my best and pulled out as many tricks as I could think of to engage the students – all to no avail. It was deadly. And I felt like a failure. And to top it off, I was scheduled to return on Monday morning to do it all over again.

The second situation was quite different. A number of months ago my wife was treated injustly and hurtfully by a former employer. A couple events transpired last week that reopened the wound of that situation. Now I can put up with and endure a lot of abuse personally – but when you mess with my wife and inflict pain upon her, well that’s a whole different story. I was filled with a ton of anger toward these people and quite frankly wanted to inflict some pain back in their lives. It became clear to me that no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to let go of my hostility.

What are you doing this week that you cannot do apart from the power of God? Well, these two situations were “in your face” reminders of my human limitations and weaknesses.

God, in His graciousness brought me back to a beloved text of Scripture from Ephesians 3:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Just as I had received some “in your face reminders” of my weaknesses and inabilities, I also received an “in your face” reminder of God’s powerful love. God wants me to be strengthened with power in my inner being; and God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all I can ask or imagine. My guess is that includes letting go of unhealthy thoughts and a desire for revenge and even engaging some eighth grade students in the classroom.

This morning a friend passed along a powerful essay by Dallas Willard, entitled, “Living in the Vision of God.” Willard’s words helped me reframe my recent experiences in the light of Gods nature and character. He writes:

“Vision of God secures humility. Seeing God for who he is enables us to see ourselves for who we are. This makes us bold, for we see clearly what great good and evil are at issue, and we see that it is not up to us to accomplish it, but up to God —who is more than able. We are delivered from pretending, being presumptuous about ourselves, and from pushing as if the outcome depended on us. We persist without frustration, and we practice calm and joyful non-compliance with evil of any kind. God looks to those who are humble and contrite of spirit, and who tremble when he speaks. (Isa. 66:2) He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (I Peter 5:5) Remember, “grace” means that he is acting in their lives. So the humble are dependent upon God, not on themselves. They humble themselves “under the mighty hand of God.” (I Peter 5:6) That is, by depending upon God to act. They abandon outcomes entirely to him. They “cast all their anxieties upon him, because he cares for them.”

So what are you doing this week that you cannot do apart from the power of God? How are you rooting yourself deeply in God’s love which manifest itself in powerful ways through the Holy Spirit? And how is God’s grace active in and through both your weaknesses and your strengths?

Stay connected…

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Filed under: leadership

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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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