I find that the longer I walk with God, the weaker I seem to be. Perhaps it is just a matter of perception, though. Maybe I am merely seeing my own weakness with greater clarity and deeper understanding, for I don't doubt that it was always there. I once thought that a small devotional time with God in the morning was all the spiritual nourishment I needed for the day. Now, however, I find that my thoughts are straying constantly away from Him and I need to call on Him for help in reigning them in. I find it critical to store His word in my heart, for I never know when I will need it. At every point when I fall, every time I am a sullen and snappish old mama or allow myself to entertain resentful thoughts toward another person, I find that it is only by immersing myself in the Word, humbling myself in prayer, and admitting my complete and utter ineptitude to walk alone that can return my thoughts to praise and peace. A moment in the word is not food enough for this spiritual weakling, it seems.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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I will be the first to admit it: I am no thing of great spiritual beauty. I can be downright unbearable, and I am appalled and embarrassed to admit how easily bitterness takes root in my heart. I find it distressing how readily I will turn from the very pages of the Word of Life and respond in anger to a conflict among my children. I have noted before that in these instances and many others, I have invariably taken my attention off of the Lord and fixed my gaze instead on some problem or slight, whether real or imagined. It is only by His strength that I ever accomplish anything worthwhile at all. I am truly a branch that is useless if vital connection with the Vine is damaged. God forbid that it would ever become severed entirely! I need a strong connection in order to thrive, for I have no life of my own but depend completely on His life flowing through me.
It is my hope, however, that God will use this infirmity of mine in some way that I cannot imagine to bring honor and glory to Himself. Indeed, if there is anything praiseworthy in my life at all, it must only be attributed to Him. I assure you that I, on my own steam, cannot produce anything worthwhile at all! I am humbled and ashamed of the feebleness of my faith when compared to many who have walked the narrow path before me.
Just last night I finished reading a biography of Nate Saint to my children. Here was a man who, by all worldly standards, was strong. He had great perseverance and ingenuity. He managed to become a pilot despite a debilitating bone infection when he was a teen and survived a crash that left him with a broken spine, overcoming obstacles that would have me throwing up my hands in defeat if I am honest. In the jungles of Ecuador in the 1950s, he engineered and implemented a device that would save many planes from stalling out due to problems in the gas line with no actual equipment save some cans of cooking oil and scraps of tubing. His energy and creativity knew no bounds, and many of the inventions and systems he came up with continued to be used until the advent of greater technology made them less necessary. He had so much to give, and give he did: He gave his life for the Gospel. All of these devices and creative endeavors were wholly performed in service to the Lord to help spread the good news of ultimate forgiveness to many tribes in the jungle, including one, the Waorani, who did not even have a word for "forgiveness" in their language. It was at their hands that he died, but his story does not end with his death.
From the perspective of the American dream, it would seem that Nate Saint's life was squandered. He was cut down early at the age of 32, leaving behind a wife and three children. Certainly his agile and innovative mind could have earned him great financial rewards and social acclaim. However, his effort was not expended to increase wealth nor for status, but to serve a God who by human judgement seemed to abandon him at his moment of greatest need.
But this is not the case.
Nate Saint understood the risks of his endeavors, and he considered them to be acceptable risks. Mr. Saint puts it like this: "People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives ... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted." He knew that his expenditure would not be for nothing. He knew the value of giving all of his heart, mind, and strength to serve the One who died to save him. He was willing to lay down all, even his own life, to bring this news to others.
If you are not familiar with his story or with the legacy left behind by his death, I encourage you to explore and find out. It is a thrilling and mighty story. His sister went to live with the tribe that speared him and his 4 colleagues, not only preaching love and forgiveness but showing it in her very actions and by her refusal to harbor bitterness against them or attempt to avenge her brother's death. Revenge was the key component of Waorani culture, the very cogs that turned the wheels of their existence. The concept of sacrifice and undeserved forgiveness perhaps never spoke louder than it did to those people who lacked the vocabulary to discuss it. The deaths of the five missionaries laid the foundation of a road that, in all likelihood, would have crumbled atop a lesser framework.
The many like these that have laid their lives down as freely as Jesus Himself laid down His give me pause. I have to ask myself, am I willing to go to any lengths, to endure any discomfort, to even stare unflinching into the darkness of the grave for Him? Do I trust Him enough even to keep toiling away at a job He has given me that appeals to none of my own desires or dreams? Do I trust Him enough to leave my finances in His hands, not fretting over the needs of tomorrow but only being content with the provision of today whether abundant or meager? Do I love Him enough to feel His compassion flow through me and extend a hand of love or friendship toward those I would merely endure if left to my own devices? Do I love Him enough to do anything and everything He tells me to without excuse or delay? Lord, if I do not, change me so that my entire being is consumed by unquenchable devotion to You!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.Psalms 73:25-26
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.