“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” says the Lord of Hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
Weakness and failure, our world looks down on these and on those who display weakness and failure. Yet, we love the story of the underdog, the hero who rises above his past; stories of redemption, of overcoming failure and achieving success.
There is a different story of redemption that hinges on our admitting our weakness and failure, our need for a Savior. It is so easy to fall into the trap of self-sufficiency, hiding our weaknesses even from ourselves, from myself. When I stop hiding, I can actually begin to love those around me, and not worry about me. When we are worried about our position or power, or place, we have no room to love those around us. I cannot know that “His grace is sufficient for me,” if I do not admit I need God’s gift of grace.
This past month, I watched a cyst that had been on my back for a long time, begin to double and triple in size. It became painful to move my left arm. I do not like to rest and ask for help. I do like to act and do. I had to acknowledge my need to seek help from doctors, ask questions, rest at home. It was a long ordeal involving several weeks, trips to the doctor and the emergency room. I had x-rays, an ultrasound, and even an MRI before they were ready to do something and by that time it was heavily infected, and I had spent almost two days at the hospital. I am on the mend now, and both the wound and the infection are healing, and I am grateful to God and the doctors for their work.
With all of this I recognize that I do not like to be ill. It was a struggle to not feel guilty while resting, my “to do” list is long. I get sore and tired still. I feel like a wimp. Where did that come from? I think I need to accomplish something to be fulfilled. God isn’t waiting for me to accomplish something, or become great. God is inviting me to be with him, to walk with him. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” Why is it so hard to let go and just trust him?
I have been reading slowly through Madeleine L’Engle’s book, The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth. She wrote:
“It is only when I am able to acknowledge my own failures that I am free to be part of a community, and part of that freedom is to be able to accept that the community itself is going to fail. At the very least, it is going to change, and it may die, and this, in worldly terms, is failure.
The church in our village offered me community and so redeemed my failures as wife, mother, writer.”
It isn’t just God whom I need to trust, but to be willing to open myself up to others around me in my community. As Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians, “for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
I have been working on a different painting this summer, Redemption.