Daddy are you Strong?

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The other day, Eden came into our room and into our bed, because, as she said it, “I scared.”

If you have kids, this has probably happened to you.

And so, like any good parent, I snuggled with her, calmed her down and then took her back to bed (because little kids are wiggly in bed and ensure that while they sleep, you don’t!).

When I took her to bed, I prayed with her, and ensured her that daddy loved her and that she was safe. It was then that she looked up at me and said, “Daddy, are you strong?”

And, I said, “Yes, honey, your dad is strong.”

“Like really strong?” she asked.

And, I told her this, “Yes, sweetheart, your dad is very, very, very strong. He is here and you are safe, and it’s okay to sleep and have sweet dreams.”

At that, she turned over and fell fast asleep.

Now, you might want to quibble or challenge the statement that I am “very, very, very strong.” And maybe, in your eyes, I’m not. Well, let’s be honest, in most people’s eyes the first word that jumps to their mind when they see me isn’t “strong.”

But, the point is that for Eden, knowing that someone stronger than her was watching over her let her feel safe and at peace. What she was looking for wasn’t for me to give a complex answer on the different magnitudes of strength out there, but rather to assure her that she is safe because of my strength.

When I went back to my bed then, the first thing that came into my head was how often the Bible talks about God being strong and mighty. We read of God being great and “mighty in power” (Psalm 147:5); that He has “acted with a strong hand and powerful arm” (Psalm 136:12) and is “mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17).

I think the reason the Bible talks like this isn’t because God is physically strong or that He has big muscles. The point is that God is strong enough that we can trust in Him, and feel safe in His presence, power and protection.

Of course, the world is broken and complex and, at times, bad things happen. I’m not denying that.

All that I am saying is that at some point what we need isn’t a complex discussion on the different magnitudes of strength, free will and evil. Rather, what we need to know, at a base soul level, is that God is mighty and able to save, and that He is for us and not against us.

What we need to know is that the One who looks after us and cares for us is “very, very, very, strong.”

 

Confessions of a Pastor: Limitations

plaster, old damagedI have a confession. I’m an imperfect person. I have faults and flaws. I’m not sufficiently good, wise, or amazing to make things work everywhere. I know I have limitations, I know I have temptations, I know I make mistakes, and I have regrets. You might be like me too.

We live in a world though that sees confessions such as these as weakness. Imperfections and limitations are things to be covered up, avoided, or denied. But this is not the way in God’s Kingdom. In God’s Kingdom limitations are not to be avoided but actually embraced because they are where God works best. As Paul says, it is in our weakness, our limitations, our imperfections, that God is strong and does his best work.

Sometimes I come to a situation, a crisis, or even a Sunday with a feeling like I don’t know what to do. I don’t have the experience, the skill, or the knowledge to draw upon. I have no idea how to make things work. I reach the end of myself and see my limitations. These, though, are precisely the times when God seems to act most. When I say to him I have no idea what I am to do – so this one is up to you. When I say to him – God, this is bigger than me, so it needs you. When I embrace the fact that God I am small and broken – but accept the fact that even in my weakness God wants to use me. And he wants to use you even with your weaknesses and limitations.

This isn’t about excusing sin and failures of that sort. This is about realizing that we are not God, that we are not perfect, that we do not know everything, or know how to act in every situation. This isn’t to be lamented but embraced because when we embrace the fact we have limits we embrace the fact that God doesn’t.

It is only when we acknowledge our limitations that we also acknowledge our need and dependency on God. As I said I am not sufficiently amazing, wise, or skilled to succeed without God. I need God each and everyday in my life, work, and in his church if I am to be faithful. I cannot rely on myself, my limits remind me of my desperate need for God.

So for you – when you come up to your limits – what do you do? Do you embrace them as a moment for God to work? Do you embrace them as a reminder of our dependency on the Spirit that lives and moves in us? Or do you avoid it, deny it, or try to compensate for it?

My suggestion is this – the next time you come to the end of yourself, embrace that fact because it is often the beginning of the work of God.