But he 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.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV
A few Sundays ago, I reached a breaking point. I was angry. I was tired. I was confused. I was upset.
I was depending on myself for strength.
But I needed to depend on the Lord.
So in the seats of the church, I cried out:
“Lord, help me give up on myself. Help me stop focusing on my own flaws, my own shortcomings, my issues. Help me instead focus on your perfection. Your faithfulness. Your goodness. .. I’m not self-sufficient. I’m not able to do anything worthwhile without you. I pray that I would truly understand that and would act as if I believe that. Help me deny myself. Help it not be about what I want, but what you want. Help me see you first. I pray that I would put you first… Without you at the center, I can’t accomplish anything of eternal value. Help me seek eternal significance through your will… Cleanse my heart of all wickedness and cleanse me with your grace. Help me be filled with the Spirit so that my life will bear lasting fruit of deep value.. I give me to you. In Christ’s name, Amen.
The work the Lord is accomplishing here with our camps and Livada’s other ministries is incredible. But it’s also hard. Terribly difficult at times. We face desperate situations daily and bear the burdens of our campers. Thinking about the trauma these kids have faced in their lives is heartbreaking. The energy it takes to make it through a day of camp is incalculable.
However, God’s grace is abundant. And His patience is incredible.
I needed to be humbled again by these experiences in order to learn once more how sufficient God’s grace is and how powerful he can be through our weaknesses. His power is made perfect when displayed through our inadequacies. He is more than adequate. He fulfills. He sustains. He strengthens. He upholds us.
And these are things I need to remind myself of daily.
In our intern bible study, we are reading through The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. It’s about the Gospel and how it should remain the center of our faith throughout our journey of sanctification. Once we have been justified, He isn’t finished with us yet. In the chapter entitled “Fall,” Chandler speaks about Ecclesiastes and Solomon’s quest for fulfillment outside of the Lord. One of the most powerful, wealthiest, and successful men in history was unable to find true satisfaction in the things of this world.
Because we can’t.
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
Ultimate joy comes from above. Ultimate satisfaction can only come from the things of the Lord. Often, we expect those around us to fill us up. We expect people and circumstances to make us happy. But that won’t ever happen.
All too often, I find myself leaning on people and expected circumstances to provide me with happiness and meaning for my life. And all to often, I find myself disappointed and discouraged.
Because this world is broken. And I can’t count on broken things to support me.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
– Psalm 62:1-2, ESV
Instead, I must learn to turn to the Creator. The one who is perfect. Whose power is demonstrated through my weaknesses. Who is glorified by His work in and through me.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5:3-5, NLT
After all, my hope is found in nothing less.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
– 1 John 3:2, ESV