Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be Strong.  I have seen these passages in the bible before…”keep running the good race, be strong, be courageous, etc.”  But what does that mean to Be Strong?  Does it mean to keep pushing through life?  Does it mean to keep working hard and serving even when you don’t feel like it?  How can I be strong when I feel so weak and desperate and ill?

I remember a time in running youth ministry when my husband and I poured our hearts into preparing lessons and encouraging games for our very humble-sized mid-week youth group of 2 or 3.  I remember spending time to prepare each week for our Wednesday night group on top of our full time jobs and driving 40 minutes to the church and each week we asking ourselves, “Is anyone going to show up at all?” “Even if one teen shows up, does that make this worth all the blood sweat and tears we put into this ministry?”  Then the ping of disappointment in ourselves, and failure followed closely behind.  I can tell you that we felt so much discouragement and weakness at that time.  We had to just submit and trust that God would bring the kids that really needed to be there.  We didn’t come up with some genius marketing plan or show up at kid’s homes to kidnap them, but just submitted.  Again I ask, “How can I be strong when I feel so weak and desperate and ill?”

In Daniel 10, the author describes a vision he has where he says he is so weak he can hardly breathe.  The kind of weakness that makes you give-up trying all together, and I can relate.  But then “the one who looked like a man” touched him and he suddenly had strength.  Not by his own sheer will-power, but from this other source.

2 Sam. 22:33 says that God “arms me with strength and makes my way perfect”.  Again, not by one’s own strength or will, but God’s.  God is not only the source of strength, but he also paves a path for us (though that path may not always be downhill).

I think we can all agree that we need God’s strength and no matter how much the Little Engine That Could says “I think I can, I think I can”, no happy thought or positive power of the mind will get us up those steep hills in life alone.  Sheer determination can only get us so far before our bodies poop out on us and our minds start to get cloudy. 

So how do I apply this strength from God in my life? 

A.      Isaiah 40:31 says that those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength, run and not grow weary.  Having FAITH that God will be the source of strength rather than relying on your own strength to give you renewal.  

B.      “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” 1 Cor. 1:25.  Of course God has no foolishness or weakness, but recognizing that no matter how hard you try, or how smart or strong you are, it is nothing compared to God’s strength and wisdom.  SUBMIT to God’s wisdom and give up your own understanding because it’s foolishness.

C.      The more you submit to God, the more you will start to see that it opens up a whole new door in your life that leads to FREEDOM. 

One might think that submission is not strength, and being free and carefree is not strength, but isn’t it possible to submit to God and still be strong and free all the same time?

We had to have faith that God would have His hands on our beloved ministry.  Over time, we had discovered that even though we had just a few teens at that time, we were actually being incredibly blessed by those few teens.  We had the opportunity to pour into those incredible kids in a way that we couldn’t have if we had a group of 20+.  It actually turned out that those very teens were facing real issues in their lives and really needed pouring into at that time.  It didn’t happen that way because we were wise or put on our “big boy pants” that day and could just tough through it.  It was because God gave us strength and understanding and freedom to just love on our small group that we are still very much invested in. 

It is submission to God and being vulnerable with Him is what makes me STRONG.

by Megan Murray