Friday, March 9, 2012

true strength

I've heard the phrase "in God's strength" a lot recently - whether it is from my own lips or from someone I know.  I like those words, but this morning I stopped and asked myself what does "doing something in God's strength" really look like?  It's kind of like a buzz-word (though it's a phrase) for us as Christians and I think (as with many other things) we say it without stopping to think what it truly means.

In God's strength.  Where is that found in the Bible?  Well, here are a few instances though not all...

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26
"Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!"
Psalm 81:1
"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
Psalm 118:14
"He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength."
Isaiah 40:29
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10
"That according to the riches of His glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being..."
Ephesians 3:16
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:13
" I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service"
1 Timothy 1:12

Wow!  I can honestly say I didn't realize how many verses there were in the Bible where God promises to be our strength (and there are even more!).  Reading through these, it's easy to see that God desires to give us strength.  The wonderful thing is that, though He asks much of us in the way of obedience and doing His will and many other things, He is faithful to give us the strength to accomplish these deeds.

Unfortunately, I know that I personally don't always actively remember His strength.  In fact, I think sometimes I take on the attitude of saying, "Thanks Lord, but I've got this."  How utterly ridiculous is that?  With this in mind, I came up with an example for what this kind of attitude is like - hopefully it will make sense.

It would be a similar concept if you were going in to surgery for a very rare procedure that only one doctor in the world knew how to preform.  In fact, this doctor had invented and perfected the technique and he was willing to preform the surgery on you.  But, instead of accepting this surgeons help, you chose a nurse who had never done this procedure, had never even heard of the doctor, and just got her license a few weeks before.  Not the wisest choice eh?

I think we chose the nurse over the doctor so often!  In fact, to bring the metaphor home, I think we become that nurse who decides to take on a case that is clearly way beyond her field and expertise.  We think, yes, I can handle this, but when it comes down to it, we realize we cant.  The amazing thing is the nurse could potentially preform the surgery if the doctor was there to help her.  He could instruct her movements, advise her, and teach her how to accomplish the best out come if she would let him help. 

This analogy is so simple and cannot completely explain the complexities of how God gives us His strength, but for me, it helps to point out many of my weaknesses.  I fail all the time by thinking that my plan is better than His plan.  I attempt to make things turn out the way I want.  When the going gets tough, I try and get tougher but eventually end up crashing and burning - exhausted and disappointed that I messed up.

That's not how the Lord wants us to live.  "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." That, to me, does not sound like God is sending me on my way to make my own mistakes.  Instead, He says He will be my strength and portion forever!  I want to live understanding that and putting it into practice.  How, you my ask?  I think sometimes it is as simple as recognizing in any situation that we aren't in control (we're not even asked to be).  Taking a step back, opening up our tightly clinched fists, and handing it all over to Him.  Being aware of His leading and prayerfully considering life gives Him the necessary room to instruct us.

I'm looking forward to (and praying about) enacting this in my own life on every occasion - not just the times where life gets rough. 

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