“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)
I know I don’t usually post at all on Saturday mornings, much less a devo thought, but this message is so important and so freeing that I just didn’t want to sit on it. I desperately needed this reminder. Maybe you do, too. So before you launch into that mindless novel at the pool, or head to that summer cookout, or start on that yardwork, or begin that week of vacation, take a moment to pause, to reflect, and to rest at the feet of Jesus. He loves us so well.
After completing week three of the “Grace for the Good Girl” book club hosted by Emily Freeman on her blog, which basically wraps up the section describing the many masks we good girls tend to hide behind … such as the masks of strength and responsibility, of a good performance, and even of spiritual disciplines … the one theme that stood out above all else was this:
If I’m being honest, I tend to think of weakness as a bad thing. Not so much if other people admit to weakness. It’s ok if someone else shares a flaw or a struggle or has a need for help or support. But me? Well, that crosses the proverbial line. After all, I am perfectly capable of handling my own problems, answering my own questions, talking myself into a better attitude, and dealing with my own mess.
“Hiding behind a mask of strength and responsibility is a lonely place to live. That mask portrays to the world around us that we have it all together, that we can handle the mess, that we don’t need people. Or worse, that we don’t need God.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)
Yes, I often wear this mask of responsibility – the one that demands I must have it all together at. all. times. – quite well. Even worse, I wear it proudly as if it’s somehow a badge of honor … all the while failing to recognize the straight up pride in that very sentiment!
“The truth is, admitting weakness is the very doorway the Lord uses to lead the tired good girl to a place of rest.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)
I know that statement is true. The Lord does use weakness to lead us to rest in Him. I have even acknowledged weakness here before and spoken of the necessary choice to return to Him in complete surrender. A choice that must be made over and over again. Because this walk with the Lord, it’s everyday, it’s every moment.
Yet as the discussion in a subsequent chapter shifted to the parable of the prodigal son, as I continued to consider this good girl tendency of hiding behind strength and responsibility, I couldn’t help but think about the burden of guilt that I so often carry around as of late. Guilt because of missed deadlines (however soft those deadlines may be…), guilt because I haven’t done enough or been enough, guilt because the facade of having it all together fades, guilt because I have a need. It’s been a struggle, it’s been a weakness.
But then in the middle of the chapter, I came to this quote by Brennan Manning from his book “Reflections for Ragamuffins”:
“There is more power in sharing our weaknesses than our strengths. The forgiveness of God is gratuitous and unconditional liberation from the domination of guilt. The sinful and repentant prodigal son experienced an intimacy and joy with his Father in his brokenness that his sinless self-righteous brother would never know.” (p. 103)
And all of a sudden that weakness is wrapped in brokenness, and in that brokenness, there is hope. Because Jesus wants that brokenness. And in exchange, He offers to lift the burden, the weakness, and replace it with intimacy and joy.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
– Psalm 51:17 (ESV)
Yes, this guilt … sometimes legitimate, sometimes false … leaves me broken and weak. But when I stop there, when I allow that guilt to rule instead of taking it to Jesus Christ and laying it at His feet in humble abandon, I miss out on the acceptance and peace and rest that He has already so freely offered.
“The beautiful redemptive truth is, I am free to identify with the Father, the one who offered unconditional love and acceptance to both sons. I don’t have to figure out the mess. I do have to trust in the One who can.” – Emily Freeman (p. 106)
“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 (ESV)