Religion is for the Weak

There was a time when I was strong. I was confident and unflappable. I prided myself on this. Stress was handled, and obstacles that dared to hinder were overcome. I had little time (or energy) for messy emotions. Just watching some of my friends emote exhausted me.

Then I met Jesus.

Ironically, I was a Christian at the time. In fact, having been “saved” at the tender age of seven, I’d been “walking with Him” for over two decades when this encounter occurred. I did not emerge from the incident unscathed. Although some changes were visible immediately, the loss of strength happened slowly, almost imperceptively over time. I cried more, got my feelings hurt, and seemed incapable of handling the stresses I once dispatched with ease.

I knew the emotions were part of the healing that Christ was working in me. I sometimes cringed at the idea that I was now just like all the women I once thought weak, but given what it cost God and His Son to afford me that healing, my pride seemed the least I could give up in return.

But losing my self-confidence and the ability to “manage” my increasingly complex life — that was another thing entirely. I resisted and lamented this change, foisting blame anywhere I could in a frantic effort to justify my mounting inadequacies — my marriage, my kids, my new job, my age. I could not bear to face the fact that I was becoming what I feared the most … weak!

I began to cling to Jesus and the provision He promised with increasing desperation. I suddenly needed Him to do more than forgive my sins, help me decide major life choices, and extricate me from messes of my own making. It seemed that now, I needed Him just to get out of bed in the morning. It became a mystery to me how anyone could survive in this world without Christ, because I knew I couldn’t. Not because of how much He loved me or the debt I owed him, but because He was the only thing giving me the strength I needed to put one foot in front of the other, to get from one day to the next. He quite literally became the air I breathed.

And the moment I realized this, I knew that it had all been His doing. Several years earlier, still high on my mountaintop encounter with Christ, I prayed in a fit of passion that God would make me desperate for Him and become the very air I breathe.  (Oh the prayers we pray and then forget!) That “noble” request on the mountaintop … was a humbling reality when walked out in the valley.

Once, during my strong years, a close friend told me that religion was for the weak, and that those who were truly strong had no need for such a crutch. I was offended, and deeply so. I didn’t need a crutch, it was simply my choice to believe in God and Jesus, His Son.

Hah!

The reality is that I am weak. God has lovingly and graciously walked me backward from strength to weakness, knocking out from under me the illusions I had propped myself up with for years; artificial confidences — crutches supporting a lie. I cannot stand on my own, and I do indeed need something upon which to lean. Perhaps religion really is for the weak — for only in my weakness did I recognize the extent of my desperation and need for the person of Jesus Christ.

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It’s That Simple!

I have it on good authority that I’m not the only one to question God’s logic or insinuate there might be some madness to His method, particularly in regard to the some of the things we are called by Him to do. The Bible records more than one instance where those chosen by God to accomplish a particular feat have doubted the appropriateness of His selection for the assignment. Moses was perhaps one of the more persistent in his skepticism. After being told by God that he was to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses questioned God repeatedly.

Who am I, that I should go …?”

“Suppose I go … then what …?”

“Well, what if …?”

“Pardon your servant, Lord, but you do know I’m not good at this, right??”

“Please send someone else.”

So many of us strive to find our place in the Kingdom and discover the particular purpose for which we were created, but when God finally reveals it to us we are often terrified and run screaming in the opposite direction. We question, like Moses, why God would choose us for a calling we are so ill-suited to fulfill. We feel compelled to inform God of the many shortcomings we possess that, in our humble estimation, rendered us quite unsuitable for the assigned task. And in the end, many of us plead with Him to send someone else, and even go so far as to identify better candidates – just in case He overlooked them initially. (What other explanation could there be for His having picked us ???)

I recently found myself wrestling with God over this very thing, and His rebuke was gentle, yet piercing. To summarize, he told me that it was presumptuous (even arrogant) of me to tell Him things about myself as if He didn’t already know; that I cannot possibly know myself as He knows me – the one who created me and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Beyond that, He reminded me that I was created for the very purpose that I was now telling Him I wasn’t equipped to handle.

You can see how this conversation did not turn out like I thought it would. What I saw as humility, He called arrogance. In pointing out what I thought were my shortcoming, I was really accusing Him of falling in short in the way He designed me. Yikes!!! God’s response to me is reminiscent of His reaction to Moses in Exodus 3.

“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 3:12

Having accustomed myself to things not making sense and God’s counter-intuitive logic, I honestly felt my purpose was yet another demonstration of just how backward He can be. But the profoundness of His response to my Moses-like skepticism is that His calling on my life is decidedly not backward. I was made by Him on purpose for a purpose, therefore, in Him, I am and have everything I need to fulfill that purpose.

Some things are just that simple.