I had all the ingredients for a major crash and burn.
On Sunday, I was preaching. On Saturday, I found myself sideswiped by a bug that left me with a string of fevers, a slow incoherent mind, a searing cough, husky voice, and screaming sinus pressure. I spent the day in miserable half-sleep instead of having time to pray, refine, and practice. Our Pastor knew how sick I was but he encouraged me that God is bigger than a winter cold and lost voice. And so I nestled in to the hope of Yahweh.
Whether I was ready or not, the sun rose on Sunday and off to church I went. Sipping throat-support tea. Unrefined notes in hand. Foggy brain leading the way. And I hoped that God would be in our midst despite me. I hoped that He would be the God He says He is. The God He has shown Himself to be. The God who uses the weak and the broken and the foolish to carry His miracles.
It was a battle of my ego. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be sub-standard. I wanted to be stellar. And witty. And sharp. And sage. And profound. But the sinus pressure wouldn’t let me. Everything within me wanted to walk away. Who would blame me? There’s no shame in being too sick. I could go home to bed. I should go home to bed.
But Yahweh had spoken to me. He had stirred my heart with His Word. For months, He had been preparing me to speak this message. And I wasn’t going to let a cough, or snot, or my pride get in the way!
And so, I was not my best on a stage in front of a couple hundred people. And webcast live to the world. And posted online for anyone and everyone.
For my personal standards, I spoke too slowly and was far too dependent on my notes. I felt sluggish. My mind was tired. I wasn’t sure I was making sense to anyone. It was hard physically and emotionally and spiritually. I felt… embarrassed.
As I wrestled with that embarrassment, I saw I terrible thing in my heart. I was trusting more in my fast mind, gifted insights and witty delivery than in the power of Yahweh’s Word. And Paul’s words came to mind:
… I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified. I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate – I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it – and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. (1 Cor 2:1-5 MSG)
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There is a Truth we need to know for every part of our lives. For every role we play. For every relationship we have. For every task we complete. What really matters is not how great we are but how much we trust in the greatness of God.
And whether we’re a seasoned preacher, or an excessively well-read parent, or a gifted relationships expert, or whatever… we need God’s greatness. We need God’s greatness more than any other thing. Because, even on our best days, we are just a wisp compared to Him. Even in our most brilliant moment, we are a mere shimmer compared to His Glory.
It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God. (2 Cor 3:5 NLT)
It might be better for us if we had no talents. If we had no laurels of our own. It would be easier to rely on God if we had nothing else to rely on. But He has chosen to fill us with gifts. It is His good plan to make us in His image and likeness! To give us minds of incredible capability. To breathe His creativity and profundity into our hearts. To place His essence in us.
He has filled us to overflowing… and then He invites us to need Him. Because all of the gifts He has given us are powered by Him. We are fueled by Him. Designed to thrive in His Love. And we become more than we would ever have been on our own.
It’s a sobering moment to need Him more than you want to. Sunday was one of those moments for me. I didn’t want to need Him that much. It was risky. It was scary. It was good.
And God moved. The stories of healing that happened that morning are incredible. I can barely believe it. Because I was not my best. Nothing great should have happened. Oh how grateful I am that God is God! Grateful. Humbled. Healed. God is great regardless of whether I am. Glory to God.
God is great regardless of whether we are!
Whoever you are today. However you find yourself. Whatever your situation. Whether you are exploding with confidence… or not your best… God wants to do beautiful things with you and through you. What really matters is not how great you are but how much you trust in the greatness of God.
Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10 NLT)
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“Empowered: Freedom (Luke 7:36-50)”