Tag Archives: grace

Weakness Is Strength

As I came out of my class at the Y the other day, I saw what looked like a large coin hit the ground. I asked the lady walking toward me if it had fallen out of her bag. She said, “No” and kept walking so I stooped to pick it up and saw it inscribed with “Wifey.” That seemd like an odd word to carry around, plus it was kind of beat up so I tossed in the trash can on the way to the water fountain.

But as I was filling my water bottle, I thought to myself that I should have turned it over to the front desk not thrown it away. Before I could go retrieve though, I heard a lady ask the front desk worker if a coin had been turned in.

My ears perked up, and my heart beat faster. It was the same lady’s voice who said it wasn’t hers. Yikes, it was afterall! Not wanting her to see me I snuck around the wall out of sight, but within ear shot. Once I knew she had headed back down the hall to class, I went back to the trash can. My plan was to grab it out and turn it in thinking she woud stop back by after class to see if it had been turned in. But the coin was gone. (Don’t worry the trash can was mostly empty minus a gum wrapper and plastic lid resting atop a discarded flyer so I didn’t have to dig deep!)

I assume the woman got it from the trash can herself, but I I felt awful for deeming it worthless and then hiding instead of running to tell her where it was! Who does that?

I’ll tell you. All of us, starting in the Garden when Adam and Eve hid from God after eating the forbidden fruit. This is when God came calling after them, “Where are you?” But clearly he’s God, he knew where they were, and what they had done. What he was really asking was, “Why are you hiding?”

Like Adam and Eve and all of humanity since, we have hidden in shame, trying to cover our sin and pridefully – rebelliously – acting as if we are innocent. Today we do this by wearing the mask of perfection to appear as we have it all together. We do this by covering up with the “fig leaf” of performance so no one will suspect we aren’t as “good” as our behavior begs them to think. And, by living out of our own strength, we deny our weaknesses, suppress our sin, and fail to see how needy we really are.

But not living weak and needy is to live not needing Jesus. Because who needs Jesus if you are strong and perfect on your own?

Lately, God has been showing me weakness is actually strength! What’s funny is I’m reading for the 4th time Barbara Duguid’s book Extravagant Grace with the subtitle: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness, but I’m hearing in a new way Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

That means I can be honest about my sin, without fear. I don’t have to hide – behind a wall, my “good” behavior or pride. I can go freely  – not shamefully – to God with all of my sin, and in all of my need for the only suitable covering there is – his righteousness.

Do you know Grace like this? Do you give it to yourself? Do you extend it to others? If you don’t, I hope you will begin seeing the key to drawing nearer to God is not sinning less and less and getting better and better, but becoming weak and dependent. His power – his strength – perfect in my weakness.

 

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How Parenting Out of Weakness Strengthened My Relationship With My Teen

“Can I talk to Dad now?”

Right in mid-sentence, my college daughter interrupted me and asked for the phone to be handed over to my husband. She had called me – upset and stressed out – needing someone to talk to, but then abruptly decided my husband was actually the one she preferred. While not easily offended, I would be lying if I said this didn’t bother me at all. I’m thankful she likes to talk to her dad, but what about me? Couldn’t we just all be on speaker?

I desperately wanted to know what she was thinking, experiencing, and doing, but every time we talked it felt like I was walking a fine line, not knowing what question or comment would push her too far and cause her to retreat. Even before that night I had sensed her shutting me out, and I couldn’t figure out why.

To find out why, and how it has led to better communication with my daughter follow me over to Rooted Ministry here.

 

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Called to the ‘Same Kind of Different’ Life

***Spoiler Alert*** If you haven’t read Same Kind of Different as Me, you may want to skip this post until after seeing the movie.

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Years ago after reading Same Kind of Different as Me, I dragged my three young children to Barnes & Noble in Waco to hear Ron Hall and Denver Moore speak. To be honest, I don’t remember what they said (probably because I was working hard to keep my kiddos still), but I do remember humility, and humor, characterizing the way they interacted with one another. It was refreshingly, not normal: this wealthy, white art dealer and a black homeless man sharing such an authentic friendship.

But had it not been for Ron’s late wife, Debbie, Ron would’ve never stepped foot in the homeless shelter where he met Denver, let alone navigate a relationship with someone so different from him. At the time they met, Ron had been having an affair, and Denver was the most violent, hard-to-reach man at the shelter. So no one would’ve predicted the transformation that would come for both.

In the movie we get snippets of the Halls pursuing after Denver, the Halls fighting for their marriage and then fighting Debbie’s cancer. Can you imagine the emotional exhaustion they must have felt? Plus, they had teenagers! The fact they didn’t throw in the towel is but by the grace of God.

Speaking of teenagers, with them in the Hall’s home, and the fine paintings and other high-dollar items they had, I think most of us would’ve been too afraid for Denver to even know where we live, let alone come spend the night. But Debbie inviting him into their home was the catalyst for the change in Denver, and the shift in their relationship.

For Denver, this invitation made him feel valued, loved and trusted, which then freed him to share his darkest secrets. And while I’m sure he still feared rejection might come when the Halls heard about his past, their response and unwavering acceptance reflected what God’s love is like.

I hope this story – this movie – will move in more of us to take up the “torch” (as Denver called for at Debbie’s funeral) to invest ourselves in the muck and mess of others, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For some this will be to the homeless populations in our cities. For others it will be to the refugees, sex trafficked, poor, homebound, elderly, disabled, sick, abandoned, addicts and others. For some, this will be overseas. But for all us, this should also be happening in our churches, workplace, schools, and neighborhoods!

All around us there is brokenness, hurt and need.

All around us there are those hiding their past, or current, struggles in fear of rejection.

All around us there are those who need a friend who isn’t going to walk away when things get too hard.

All around us there are those who feel such shame and hopelessness that to know just one person cares could change everything.

But I also know, like the many at Debbie’s funeral who gave Denver a standing ovation for his speech, the idea of doing what Debbie did is one thing, the putting into practice another. Why? At the heart level, there are at least two reasons: 1) our time, our things, our schedule is more valuable to us, and 2) our distracted, self-focused lives keep us from even seeing the needs of others.

Pouring ourselves out for others takes time. It’s a commitment and sacrifice that will not leave us unaffected. We will get entangled in other’s problems that will seem easier left alone. But like Ron Hall discovered, life interrupted was of far greater value than anything he owned. May we see this too.

May we be a people who see ourselves as the same kind of different as those around us. May this create in us humility, and the eyes to see and love our neighbors as ourselves. And through the loving others better, may hearts be transformed, communities changed, and in the process true joy discovered through the giving up of our lives.