The Illusion of Strength
Having returned from spending an entire day painting our rental apartment, I awoke this morning feeling tired and sore in places that I had forgotten existed. As I struggled with the fact that I would indeed have to get up out of bed, I thought of a thousand excuses to just stay put. It would have been so much easier to have just hired someone to do this work. I could have then avoided the after effects I was now experiencing! It occurs to me that most of modern life, in fact, consists of conveniences designed to minimize such physical work. As a result, we are increasingly a society growing flabby and weak in both body and soul.
Physical exhaustion now and then either from overworking or perhaps from a period of illness or incapacitation, can sometimes serve as a reminder to us that we are not superhuman. That we have limitations. That our bodies are aging. That most of the time our faith in our own strength is really just an illusion. The truth of the matter is that one unfortunate accident or illness can side line us indefinitely. However, most of the time we live as if we are indestructible and can do anything, accomplish anything, if we just push ourselves hard enough.
The reality is that this is not so. Floods, hurricanes, and tornados are powerful reminders of nature how the seemingly indestructible can perish. In our own lives, an illness, an accident, the loss of employment, death of a family member, a economic downturn, a divorce- these can all test the limits of our strength and endurance. For many of us, it is only such drastic events as these which force us to turn to God and acknowledge our weakness and need. It is only in these circumstances when we cry out to Him. And sadly, once our world is righted again, we forget how much we truly need Him, and it’s back to business as usual. The illusion of strength returns…..
How wise are those who live in constant dependency upon Him! Blessed are those who remember daily their own insufficiency for all things and rely upon His grace and abiding love to navigate every circumstance in their lives. They have relinquished the illusion of strength and embraced weakness. And it is in this weakness that His strength is made perfect! Amen.
God and Gutter balls
I have not bowled for a long time but I can still recall the experience well. I am an inconsistent bowler. I have earned a score as high as 263, and as low as 63. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. On days when I am bowling well the gutters seem like an unnecessary afterthought. On a bad day they seem more like a life saving barrier to protect me from killing or maiming other innocent patrons of the bowling alley!
It occurs to me that God functions in a somewhat similar way in our lives. He provides “gutters” to guard against choices brought on by having a bad day in the game of life. Life is a series of choices when you come right down to it. And we are the decision makers. God in His infinite great love and mercy has given us free will so that we may make any number of choices regarding our lives. I wish that I could say that all of mine had brought God glory and made the heavenly angels sing. Alas, this is not the case. Sadly there are days when most of my decisions would result in a score of 63 or even lower!
Because God knows each of us intimately, He is also aware of ways in which each of us should be limited in some way. As such we all face certain limitations in life, such as where we live, how much income we have, how much strength and energy we possess, our life situation, and even the number of years we have upon the earth. Many of us seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to alter these limitations. Our tendency, when confronted by a boundary or limitation, is to try to find a way around it. How often do we stop to consider that it may be serving some purpose in our lives? God demonstrates his approval of boundaries in the way that He created the heavens and the earth. He placed boundaries between the sea and the land; between night and day; between each species in where they should live and how they should function. A fish cannot nest and fly. A bird has no gills and cannot swim. These are limitations which are for the good of these species. Does it not make sense that a loving God would place limitations on his human children as well?
Paul asked for God to remove one of his limitations. A ” thorn in the flesh” as he described it. What was God’s answer? “My grace is sufficient for thee”. Whatever the limitation Paul was facing he apparently needed it. God left it in place.
And so He does in our lives as well. Before we ask God to push back a boundary, knock down a barrier, or remove a limitation, perhaps it would be wise to consider its possible meaning and purpose. When we feel ourselves frustrated by hitting the wall with something it may be the time to prayerfully seek wisdom and guidance from above. God is certainly still in the business of moving mountains. But He is also a God of order, of boundaries, and He knows just exactly how much of each we require in our lives. Our job is to humbly submit to His will for our lives, trusting that He always has our greatest good in mind.
Revelation and Global Warming
Revelation. Jesus Christ … Revealed! The line is longer to read the latest scandal revealed in the tabloids than this. That said there is no shortage of speculation about what these words mean. “When is the end? “, seems to be the major concern.
In recent years I have been struck by the correlation between the projections for what will occur if the world warms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 degrees on average. At one degree (about where we are now) there begin to be noticeable changes in rainfall, drought, and ocean levels. These events and their effects are daily in the news. However as the global average temperature creeps toward the point of averaging 3 degrees above average (the point where future increases and their effects are irreversible) these effects become increasingly dramatic.
I am certainly no expert on global warming but I have observed a correlation between these effects and the description of the process of world judgment in the second vision of Revelation (4:1 – 16:21). In Revelation 8:7-12 one third of sea life dies, one third of freshwater becomes un-potable, and the heavenly bodies become dimmed in the night sky by one third. I cannot help but see the correlation here to the effects upon our planet of our life here.
No generation since the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given has seen these things. Jesus said, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).
We must therefore give greater heed to the things of eternity for we surely have less time than we imagined.