I am rediscovering weakness… or even pursuing it again. I think, I pray, I hope with a new actual awareness (or alomost awareness) of all the weak and broken parts of myself that the Lord has shown me over the past year. Indeed it was a year ago that I enjoyably blogged about discovering the gospel in weakness, reading and recording the thoughts of Henri Nouwen (Wounded Healer) or Richard Sibbes (The Bruised Reed) or Kyle Strobel (Metaphorpha) or just my own musing thoughts.
Through the past year, the Lord has, I think, shown me his Fatherly affection by placing me over his knee and WHACK. Chastening the child he loves. Showing me my personal fear of weakness/sin/struggle even as I “theologically” engaged it with passion. Putting me in a place where the wrestling match with weakness was… hell. May I say with truth and candor: church planting has been the most difficult life experience, even as God has grown his church and planted us in the “west valley.” I am so thankful for the fog of last Fall, and the slow unfolding of a spiritual Spring over the past few months. I have seen life come from death. Energy returned. Weakness confessed. Habits exposed. Righteousness (my own) revealed as filthy. Gifts (preaching and teaching) used as a cop-out for true pastoral leadership. Otherness revealed as a serious weakness. Exhaustion evidencing gospel-thirst. Excessive work falsely defined as “success.” Being at home with my family confronted with what it truly is to “be home” and undistracted. Loving my wife compared to laying my life down for her. On we could go.
Maybe this is what freedom feels like.
We are in confining quarters, indeed, when we are enclosed in self, but when we emerge from that prison, and enter into the immensity of God and the liberty of his children, we are truly free.
Though it sounds strange to say it I am rejoicing that God has reduced [me] to a state of weakness. Oh, how painful, but how beneficial these times of weakness! As long as any self-love is remaining, we are always afraid it will be revealed. But God does not give up as long as the least symptom of it lurks in the innermost recesses of heart, God pursues it, and by some infinitely merciful blow, forces it into the open. And the sight of the problem becomes the cure. Self-love, forced into the light, sees itself as it really is in all its deformity and disgrace. And in a moment, the flattering illusions of your whole selfish life are dissipated. God sets before your eyes your idol: self. You look at that spectacle, and you cannot turn your eyes away. Nor can you hide the sight from others. To expose self-love in this way without its mask is the most mortifying punishment that can ever be inflicted.
When you finally see self for what it is, weakness has become your only possession. Strength is not even in the picture. And if you had any, it would only make the agony longer and more distressing. If you die [to self] from weakness and weariness, you will die more quickly and less violently.
What, then, shall we do? Do nothing. Seek nothing. Hold to nothing. Simply confess everything, not as a means of getting relief, but because of humble desire to yield unto Jesus. (Fenelon, Let Go)
But [Jesus] 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 calamaties, for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
O Lord my God, thank you for this church planting weakness exposition – all for your glory and display of your grace. Amen.