“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
As I sit here by the bay, with the seagulls squawking happily, the warmest breeze tickling my toes, and the waters of Lake Michigan rippling out as far as the eye can see, this verse makes me stop and smile.
Joni Eareckson Tada visited our church this past Sunday, and it was absolutely incredible to hear her story and listen to her teaching. It wasn’t so much a sermon as it was a living, breathing example right on the stage of how the Lord can truly use our weaknesses to display His strength.
Too often, we view our weaknesses as horrible defects - flaws that must be fixed. I can easily identify with that sentiment, particularly in the last two weeks! But more on that later... :) Joni, however, challenged me to think with a completely different perspective. My weaknesses are there for a distinct purpose: to expose my sins, sanctify me through suffering, and shove me closer into the arms of Christ. Except for the last item, this list ain’t exactly a walk in the park! Which is precisely why God uses these pesky little weaknesses of ours to mold and shape us into His likeness...an exhausting, redemptive, lifelong process.
As I came home after church, I prayed that God would show me some of my own weaknesses and make me more aware of how they point to Him. As I reflected back on what have been the two hardest, craziest weeks of my life thus far, three main weaknesses stood out to me.
The first one may not sound like a weakness to others, but I can so easily make it an idol in my life: being around the people I love. I have never been away from my entire family for more than a week, and I was never the child who dreamed of summer camps away from home. Although I adore traveling, it usually involves family and friends and thus doesn’t feel as much like ‘leaving home.’ When I signed up for this internship, I knew that leaving my parents, siblings, friends and mentors would be hard, but I never anticipated it being this hard. I am not a person who cries easily, but I think I’ve cried more in the last two weeks than I have in the past two years. Good grief. :) Now that I’m finally settled in, I can look back and chuckle at the strangest little things that set me off sniffling... :)
So how has God used this weakness to show me His strength? Well, He is showing me more every day that although I miss my earthly family like crazy, He is ultimately my heavenly Father who is still watching over me in Michigan, just like He did in Virginia. Not only that, but I have the peace of knowing that He is also guiding and protecting those I left behind in their own daily lives. He is also calling me to live out the Great Commission in my new little corner of the world. Jesus never said, “Go wherever you’re most comfortable, and preach the good news to only the people you feel close to.” Um, no. :) We are called to step out in faith (sometimes sheer terror!) and be lights in the darkness for Jesus, something I hope and pray that I am doing here in this beautiful state of Michigan.
The second weakness I’ve noticed lately is my desire for a steady relationship. Trust me, as a self-proclaimed romantic, this desire has always been around (says the girl who once proposed to a poor fellow preschooler), but I have experienced it more intensely in the last few weeks. Each day seems to bring news of another friend of mine starting to date, getting engaged, or even married. While there has been the potential for relationship, I haven’t felt the Lord calling me to that stage of life quite yet. I’ve always dreamed of marrying young, and moving straight from home into my first shared apartment or house with a new husband to share it with. Apparently, God decided that wasn’t the plan. :) Here I am, living independently, and still quite single!
Yet, this weakness is teaching me two important lessons. The first one is to seek first the greatest Lover of my soul: the One who made it! He loves me more completely and totally than any man ever will, and I am learning to pursue and be pursued by Him on a daily basis. The second lesson is patience. And oh, do I need to learn this lesson. I have never been a patient person and probably never will be! :) But He is calling me to follow His timing, and not my own schedule, however hard that may be.
The last weakness that I have struggled with during this new Michigan adventure is the fear of change. Let me tell you something...if you don’t like change, then I would not recommend moving halfway across the country by yourself to work in a completely new job environment while still taking college classes. :) I have had the rug of routine yanked out from under my feet so many times over the past two weeks that I’ve lost count. From living in Virginia to living in Michigan. From coming to meals every day to making my meals every day. From selling chicken and waffle fries to making fresh donuts by the hundreds every morning. From waking up at 7am to waking up at 5am. From paying virtually no bills to paying for my own gas, groceries, and clothing. From sleeping in a normal bed to dragging myself up into a bunk every night. The list goes on and on and on...
I’ve gotten to live and work with fellow CollegePlus students. I’ve watched them stay up with me until midnight as study buddies and avid encouragers. I’ve gotten to explore in my own car, on my own schedule. I’ve watched more fireworks this year than ever before. I’ve made friends at work with Heidi, Tim, Judy, Janie, Melanie, Tyler, Linda, Toni, Cris, Nicole, and so many more. I’ve seen the sunrise every morning on my way to work at 5:45. I’ve watched the sunset over the water of at least four different lakes. I’ve gotten to hear Joni Eareckson Tada speak at my church. I’ve successfully cooked my own meals for two weeks without starving or setting the house on fire. I’ve washed my own laundry twice now without changing any of the colors. *fistpump* I’ve watched a live Broadway show from the comfort of my own bed. I’ve learned how to make the softest, roundest donuts you’ve ever seen. I’ve learned to call on Jesus more every day, whether to cry on His shoulder, thank Him for the beauty that surrounds me, or simply tell Him about my day.
I may have weaknesses, but they are a distinct part of who God made me to be. He gave me specific areas where I have to cry out, “I can’t do this. But He CAN.” Friends, what are the weaknesses that God has placed in your life? This week, I encourage you to look around and see where He is calling you deeper, pushing you farther, and pulling you closer to Himself. You might not be in Michigan, starting one of the biggest adventures of your life, but I assure you that His lessons are everywhere. Just like Joni encouraged me on Sunday, own your weaknesses! Accept them with hands open wide and let Jesus sanctify you through them every day. With that being said, I’m going to go battle one of my current weaknesses: the terrors of grocery shopping... :)
Til Kingdom come,