Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
I've been reading The Power of Accidental Increase by Steve Sisler, and it's been really ministering to me. To the point that I was doing everything I could not to weep on the train home yesterday. I was reading the part called "Embracing your Weakness."
Yeah, that's right. Your weakness.
Steve pointed out that we all have weaknesses, but knowing what they are makes us strong. Self-understanding is a great strength. But don't only know what your weaknesses are, embrace them. There are some things we can get better at. If I don't speak French well right now, I can take a class. But my maximum level of cognitive skill will stop at some point. And I have to be ok with that. Or think of it this way... I will never ski well. I just won't. I don't have the balance for it. Could I take lessons and practice and get better? Yes, certainly. But would that be an appropriate use of my time? I mean, really? Will I ever be phenominal? Is Skiing that "Thing" that I will be known for? (Only if it's for my spectacular falling). But you know what, God has already used my spectacular falling abilities. I was at a ski trip with work a couple of years back, and a girl fell and hurt her knee quite badly. I, personally, had just done a head-over-heels snowball fall. It took me a few minutes to find all of my equiptment. But when I did, I noticed that she was on the ground, because I had fallen right by her. So I was able to stand by her and keep people away, and get someone's attention so they could go get help. If that's not God directing me in my weakness I don't know what is. :)
So you might think that the more appropirate scripture verse would be the one about how we're all different parts of the body and we can't all hope to be the good skiiers. But that's not the point. Ok, ok, a little extra scripture never hurt anybody, here it is:
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)
Are you happy now? Ok, good. But here's the thing about that first verse I put up there. Sometimes understanding we're weak, and doing it anyway, is what God calls us to do. Or maybe He calls us to do it in spite of our weaknesses. And how on earth do we do something that we don't do well? The best that we can. We stand firm, not in ourselves, but in Christ.
Because we will be found out. No one can pretend to be perfect forever. Even me, and I've tried.
But Steve brought up the tale of an olympic swimmer. Do you remember the Summer Olympics in 2000? Eric Moussambani had just learned to swim a year before. He wasn't good at it. He was in a qualifying heat with two other men, both of whom got disqualified for false starts. So here is Eric, a swimming pool, 17,000 people, and several TV cameras. Did he give up? Did he say "I know myself and I'm not a good swimmer, so I'm not going to waste anyone's time"?
No. He did it anyway. He swam because that's what he was there to do, despite his weaknesses. He swam slowly, with much splashing, and got to the point where the announcer was afraid he would actually stop. But he didn't. He kept going. And he got a standing ovation from men and women who 30 seconds earlier had probably been laughing at him.
But he kept on. He did it anyway. He didn't let his weakness hold him back from what he had flown to Sydney to do.
So what does this mean to me? This doesn't tell me that I should take up Skiing. No, I don't have the heart for it. I don't know why Eric chose swimming, but he desired to do it. I have no desire to ski. But what this tells me is that there will be times in life that, for some reason, I am being looked at and asked to do something, and I'm just not good at it. Do I listen to the monkey on my shoulder, who is screaming in my ear that I suck at this and I should just give up and move in with my parents and watch TV in their basement all day because that's all I'm capable of doing? No. (Dear Lord, no.)
Don't listen to the voice of adversity. Listen to the voice of God. Prepare yourself to not be perfect. Prepare yourself to be in tough situations. (Read about the Armor of God sometime.) Prepare yourself, to stand. To keep on keepin' on. To do it anyway. Because if you remain true to your calling, even if it is in a place of weakness, you will see it through.
And next time you think you can't, or you're worried about looking stupid in front of people, just watch this. It's painful, but beautiful. Sort of the way our lives are. Cheers.