my strength, or His strength?

(I started this post quite a few months ago and wasn’t able to finish it until now.  I decided to keep the beginning because, well, isn’t the point of this blog to be real and honest?  We all have our ups and downs-and it’s not about how we start out, it’s about how we finish and where our eyes are fixed in between.  I also realize it switches topics and directions quite a lot-and that’s ok.)

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been told to ‘start exercising’ or to fill my life up with more. Filling up my life with ‘more’ may have helped for a bit, but the lows sunk even deeper than before, and the hole I had dug for myself became a pit that I could no longer see the bottom of, and when I once again fell in, did it ever hurt.

Today I’m not ok.  Today I feel like throwing in the towel.

I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

My body’s tired.  I don’t sleep, no matter how exhausted I am.  My back aches, and some days it hurts to move.  And I can’t choose to make it go away.  Oh, if I had that choice, believe me, I would have made it.  All I can choose is to put one foot in front of the other and believe that one day it will have been worth it.  Because one day, it will.

One day I will reach heaven and God will look down with a smile and say, ‘I’m so proud of you for fighting the good fight.’  And in that moment, every ache, every pain, and every ounce of energy I used to fight against the thoughts that plagued me will be worth it.  One day the fight will end, but my call today isn’t to pine for that day.  My call today is to live the life God has called me to and to fight the good fight.  Every day that my eyes open once again and air fill my lungs is a day to rejoice.  It’s a day to let the joy of the Lord be my strength.

Some days I wonder if it’s worth it.  I wonder how much longer I can continue to overdraw my give a crap account.  But the thing is, I’m not supposed to be drawing from my own account, I should be drawing from His.

One thing my upbringing taught me was how to be strong.  It taught me how to fight like a wild beast and claw my way to what I want.  I was told that anything a man could do, I could do better.  I know how to change the oil in a car, change the fuel pump and filter for a generator, fence, dig a trench and lay pipe for water, and what I don’t already know I can, and will, figure out.

I’m strong, and I’m thankful for that.  I’m thankful for a mother who instilled in me a strength very few get to experience.  She taught me that when something goes wrong we will survive it-and come out stronger for it.  While my will of iron and this strength are two of the things that have, and will, serve me in the greatest stead-they’re also two of my chief weaknesses.

Last weekend I went to a Shawn Bolz conference and I got a word from a few people.  It was a word I wasn’t all that thrilled to hear, and at the time it didn’t hit me all that hard.  But as time went on I got confirmation on that word at my church, Jesus Culture, and then it hit me like a freight train.  My eyes opened and I felt God tell me something –


Your strength is beautiful, and something I love, but it’s been taken out of context.  You have chosen to bear burdens that are no longer yours to bear.  They were paid for in blood on that cross.  Those burdens are why you’re downtrodden.  They’re why you can’t lift up your face.

I did not place this strength and this steel will into you so that you could live upon your own strength.  I gave it to you so that you could use it to cling to me and to my promises.  I gave it to you so that you could hold on to the downtrodden and the broken hearted.  Not so that you could refuse to look to Me for strength.  It’s a gift-but even a gift can become misused and lose it’s intended direction.

Don’t rely upon your own strength.  Look to me, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).  I came to bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners (Isaiah 61:1).  I came to set you free and take your burdens (Psalm 81:6) for my burden is light and my yoke easy (Matthew 11:29-30).  Stop turning from me because you’re ashamed to ask for my strength.  I love it when my children cry out ‘Abba, Father!’ and ask for my help.  Ask and you shall receive (Matthew 7:7), I love to rescue my children.

Asking for help is not weakness.  It’s saying ‘I trust you to take care of me because I’m not sure I can go on any more’.  It’s choosing vulnerability over sure protection.  It’s choosing to include someone else in that fortress many of us hide our hearts behind.  It’s saying I place you above myself.  I choose you.  Letting down those walls and being vulnerable is breathtakingly hard, but if we don’t, how will we ever be healed?

The goal of our life is not to see how many people we can save, or how many volunteer hours we can get in, or even how much money we can make.  The goal of our life is to grow in intimacy with our Lord, the author and perfecter of our faith.  When you love someone you take on the attributes of that person.  You mimic them and the things that they love become the things that you love.  The natural progression of deeper intimacy with Christ is that your love would grow deeper and the fruits of the Spirit more abundant.  So take heart, you are a beloved child and you’re not in this alone.

you’re not in this alone