My brain works a little like a musical production. Seriously! There are so many times when a song comes to me and it is not a conscious choice. I know for certain that God uses music to speak to me because it's the language I best understand. It's the easiest way to reach me and through a song, I hear His voice more clearly.
When I am troubled, usually a song will come to mind during a night of fitful slumber. The song isn't anything that I consciously choose . . . it's a song that brings me peace and comfort.
When I am frustrated, I often think of the lyrics of some song (these songs take some deliberate thought) that are usually a tongue-in-cheek response to whatever I'm frustrated about. And usually something that I find myself chuckling over later.
One of my favorite musicals is "The Sound of Music." I could watch it again and again and every single song in that musical has a special message just for me. That's what good theater does--it says something unique to each individual.
Today, as I was reading through a daily devotion, I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from "The Sound of Music." Do you remember the scene when Maria is sent from the Abbey to be the Von Trapps nanny and she is scared silly about it? She's walking to her destination--at first with some trepidation but later, we see her swinging her valise and singing to the top of her lungs about how confident she is that she will make a difference in the lives of the Von Trapp children. It's the whole point of the song that made me recall it . . . she has the confidence she needs to make a difference in the lives of others. Her confidence is totally selfless!
Several years ago, I would have been described as an extremely self-confident person. Had I been Maria headed toward that new job, I wouldn't have had the slightest dread or worry. In fact, I would have been reveling in the prospect of a new job and even more excited that it was a huge challenge! You see, for me, the bigger the challenge, the better I liked it. Bring it on! I might not have all the answers, but I knew this about myself: I had the wherewithal to figure out what I didn't know!
Now, fast forward to 2008 . . . I had a high-powered job but during the couple of years before that, my health had started to decline. As my health deteriorated and my ability to face new challenges waned, so did my self-confidence. I believed that I lacked the ability to do anything meaningful. And I sank into a deep depression. Not because I was sick. Not because I didn't have a job. But because I believed I was in a situation that would keep me from achieving anything of much value.
I didn't know the lack of achievement was the problem at the time. When I had those feelings of worthlessness, I believed they were because I felt bad or because I felt hopeless about the future. But I learned later that those feelings of being so unworthy were born of a lack of achievement--an addiction that I'd had for more than 50 years! I had no idea that I craved it like an addict craves a drug, but for almost my entire life, even during grade school, my addiction--my coping mechanism--was achievement. It's how I defined myself and it's what made me feel valuable.
Well, you say, at least you weren't a drunk or a drug addict. But I might as well have been! When you take the ability to achieve success by the world's standards from a person who has defined herself by that, you've got a huge problem! Instead of this self-confident, tackle-the-world attitude, you've got a person who thinks she isn't worth a plug nickel! And that was me!
But over time, God began to work on me. And a couple of years ago, he started nudging me and then beating me over the head with this scripture passage:
2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ 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 about my weaknesses, so that
Christ’s power may rest on me.
The Lord put that verse in my face all the time. I'm a little shocked that it didn't come to me in the form of a song, but perhaps if it had, I wouldn't have remembered it so well. Now, I've adopted it as my life verse. I even have a necklace that I wear that reminds me of what that verse means to me.
Today, I needed to pull out this verse and say it to myself several times. And guess what happened this morning . . . I got a devotional in my in box that quoted this passage! Don't you just love it when God does that? Not only was he reminding me of His message and His blessing on my life, but He was giving me a new take on it! By the way, Lord, let me just say "Thanks for that!" one more time.
Like Paul, I had to come to know what I could do on my own. Paul knew it and so do I . . . now. He knew he could accomplish absolutely nothing on his own! And I know it, too. All those years of achievement were pretty impressive, but I did none of it on my own, and all of it was nothing that matters in the long run. None of it matters one whit!
In the Bible Translation, The Message, my life scripture is paraphrased this way:
constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel
did his best to get me down; what he in fact did
was push me to my knees. No danger then of walk-
ing around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think
of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three
times I did that, and then he told me,
'My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit
focusing on the handicap and began appreciating
the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in
on my weakness. Now that I take limitations in
stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that
cut me down to size-abuse, accidents, opposition,
bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the
weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Paul had great confidence. The prefix, “con” means “with” and the root “fid” means faith.” So if I am confident, it means that I walk in faith. It means that I am holy, chosen, redeemed, a beloved child of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. On days like today, I wouldn't describe myself as confident. But when I look at what Paul had---and that he could boast in his weakness--I know that he had God-confidence. And I have that today even though in my body, I feel weak.
While I am not confident that I can walk upstairs and clean out a closet, I am confident that God loves me and He has chosen me for this "gift" that I am still struggling to receive. But He knows my struggles and He understands them. He knows that I want to accept the gift, freely and willingly and rejoice in it. He knows that I want to say "Even though I feel like a train ran over me today, I am empowered by Your Holy Spirit and you dwell in me." And there it is . . . I just said it and guess what? I believe it! I feel it! I know it's real!
I can do nothing of any lasting value without Him! But when I take whatever comes my way and abide in Him and allow Him to work through me, I can accomplish what He calls me to do. Cleaning out that closet won't matter 10 minutes from now, but doing the things that Christ has called me to do will live on and on. And when I remind myself that His grace is enough, I am confident. I am walking in faith that He will use my weaknesses to show the world that I am strong because I am justified, sanctified, and purified through the blood of Christ Jesus!
Strength doesn't lie in numbers;
Strength doesn't lie in wealth.
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!
It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own.
I have confidence in confidence alone . . .
I have confidence (with faith) in confidence alone
(with faith in Christ Jesus alone)!
Besides, which you see, I have confidence in me . . .
I have confidence that because of my faith in Him, and Him alone, that I am stronger even when I appear to be the weakest. The weaker I get--the more I die to self--the stronger I become in my walk with the one who possesses all the strength! The one who showed his strength in His death on the cross when the crowd saw Him at His most vulnerable. The man who walked this earth for 33 years knowing that He didn't have to flex His muscles or demonstrate Himself as a man of power and achievement. The man who tells me that when I trust in Him, all I trust becomes my own!