Monday, January 21, 2008

Weakness is an Opportunity

Tomorrow a new semester begins. Even after successfully completing three semesters in seminary, I still have the same old dread threatening to overpower me that I had on my first day of graduate school. I will be translating all of 1 Corinthians from the Greek (16 long chapters!), studying the Old Testament prophets (yes, ALL of them) as well as Hebrews to Revelation. The amount of assigned reading is staggering, and there are many papers to write and exams to take. It is all overwhelming, to say the least.

Yet being in this position, feeling weak and doubting my own ability, is a very opportune place to be. God tends to do His greatest work through us when we are at the end of our own resources. Over and over again we see God accomplishing his purposes in Scripture using very flawed people. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong . . . so that no one may boast before him.” (I Corinthians 1: 27, 29)

Gideon was one such example. He is found in Judges 6. Gideon began his march against the Midianites with an impressive army of 32,000 men. God stopped him and told anyone who was afraid to turn around and go home. 22,000 men left. God then told Gideon he would pare down the numbers once again, and after observing how they drank water (a true test of a mighty warrior?!) he disqualified all but 300 men. Against all odds, Gideon and his measly 300 troops conquered a vast army with empty jars, torches, and a trumpet blast.

There are many other examples of God using small numbers or unimpressive people to win great victories. When you read these stories, you cannot miss that the battles were won by God, not by the fighting men. There is no mistaking who the power source is.

When we are in a position of weakness, we are primed and ready for God to use us. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul knew this and welcomed his weaknesses. “So that Christ’s power may rest on me. . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12: 9, 10)

Many summers ago I received a call from Bob McCoy, the director of youth camp at Camp Berea, where I was to be a counselor. He wanted me to direct the Youth Choir. This was a special group of teen campers that practiced for a week, then traveled to a nearby conference center to give a concert. He thought of me because I was a singer, played the guitar, and led the worship at the camp (and he probably couldn’t get anyone else). However, directing a formal choir like that was way out of my comfort zone. I would have to conduct, teach kids their parts, and generally appear to know what I was doing! This responsibility was beyond my abilities. As I tried to refuse, Bob made a profound statement: “Julie, you will never know the power of the Holy Spirit until you put yourself in a position where you cannot succeed without him.” Convicted by his logic, I reluctantly agreed to do the job. In spite of me, the choir was wonderful and the people at the conference center were delighted with the teens. I was amazed at what the Lord had accomplished, knowing my inadequacies.

So I guess the semester is just another chance to see God at work through my shortfalls, once again demonstrating His power while utilizing a very cracked vessel. Someone remind me of this, please, around the beginning of April!!

1 comment:

Sara said...

woo hoo! i love this!