This is the first in a few posts pondering the nature of weakness. I’ve come face to face with more than I’d like to admit of the darkness and weakness of my heart in the last 6 months. It’s not going away. So here’s a start in trying to live with it.
I spend a good proportion of my week feeling, well, weak. Feeling like a failure, feeling like a lazy distracted person and generally feeling stuck. Stuck in a place I’m not sure how to get out of. All of which has led me to ponder the reality of weakness, shame and failure.
I don’t just feel like a failure. This is not some beating myself up trip (well not for the most part anyway, it does spin into that obviously) but its a recognition that I am lazy and distracted. I do not work with the diligence I think we might be called to. I am fickle. I am fearful. I am ashamed of what makes me cry. I am overwhelmed and undone by things that I think are small simple tasks. I am weak. I don’t enter situations with a positive what can I learn from this attitude. I enter the day and sigh. I walk home in tears at my seeming inability to do what I know I should. I am weak. Some of this is blatant sin, some of these needs to be confessed time and time again to the one who never runs dry of mercy. Some of this, however, is just weakness.
These are not glamorous Pauline weaknesses, these are not socially acceptable weaknesses. I’m not being battered for my faith, I’m not facing hardship for the gospel, I’m not overcoming major sin. I’m living in that place I’m starting to think more of us are living in than we’d like to admit. The same old everyday boring weaknesses. The apathy, the world of good intentions, the lurking cowardliness, the ongoing selfish heart, the laziness and the defeatism that saps our strength away. The weakness of character that we hate in others, despise in ourselves and run from ever admitting out loud.
A strange thing is happening as I look deep at my darkness. It’s when I reach these dark corners of the soul, which I hate admitting to (except in places of control where I don’t have to look at someone else’s shocked face as they offer nice solutions to my weaknesses) that I find another truth under the slime and muck of my dark heart.
It’s a whispered truth so lean in.
God delights in using the weak.
God is not ashamed of using the weak.
God didn’t call me because I was a great encourager or a deep thinker or someone who cares. He called me in all my weakness and emptiness. Not because I was going to do amazing things for him. But so he could do something amazing in me. So he could work in me through the slime and the dirt and so beauty could appear. So it would be obvious to all and sundry that he is the glorious all loving one. If I am not honest about my weakness then how will everyone see the brighter better hope of a God who loves and delights in using someone like me who gets it wrong so much of the time?
I sense my old UCCF team leader Gareth would now want to point out that I’m not all rubbish and useless but a loved new created child of God full of the spirit. I am. I really am. I am beautiful because of that. I have worth and value because of that. But I’m still faced with the presence of dark dark weaknesses within and the more they are brought to the light and exposed the more brilliant it is that I am still known as a child of God. His grace really is big enough for me and for you.
So I boast about my weakness. I bring it into the light and I let the devil laugh, I bring my despair, laziness, depression and more and display them confidently because there is a bigger love and a bigger grace at work. The response to my weakness isn’t to disregard it or have well meaning people claim its not really there or have anyone offer nice practical solutions to it.
The response to my weakness is to display it and enjoy our God making a spectacle of it on the cross as he takes it all, forgives it all and offers new mercy each morning. Even if I act in the same way tomorrow as I did today.
I trust he’ll work on my sin and help me deal with it and I trust that maybe some of my weaknesses will never go because they demonstrate more of the grace which outstrips them and works through them.
I am weak. He is strong.
That’s how I can face myself each day, that’s how I can face the world each day and that’s how one day I’ll manage to face Him on that final day, rejoicing that he is not ashamed of me.
Coming next… Do we really believe this is true in our churches? How far have we gone from the freeing joy of God choosing the weak and foolish, the things that are not to shame the things that are? How prepared are we really to live with each others weakness and glory in the God who delights in weak, small, overlooked people?