“Loving Creator, I am not asking to overcome my weakness, but to use it in some way to glorify you…”
This is the perfect prayer for today’s devotional.
This is not a favorite prayer of mine. I want to hide my weaknesses and vulnerability! I want God to use my strengths and all that I am confident in to bless others and glorify Him. (that I can handle- it feels safe and I feel in control)
But He wants to use my weaknesses…
Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly talks about the courage it takes to BE in the Arena– (to engage in life/to do something) and embrace vulnerability and imperfection. Well OKAY then… Here goes!
Last night as I went to bed, I didn’t feel good about the direction of my recent devotional posts- they seemed heavy and cerebral. I kept looking for comments or feedback- feeling uncertain and insecure. I was just getting up the courage to ask for some feedback, when I got a call from my good friend and editor.
After congratulating and affirming my choice to Be in the Arena by writing again- she mentioned that my posts were a bit academic, too long and short changed you all from connecting with me. She offered some insights and suggestions and her wise and loving critique were a breath of fresh air and Exactly what I needed to hear.
If you have felt that the first 3 days were a bit like slogging through a dense forest… welcome to the beach on the other side! Just the image of being on a beach makes me relaxed and restful, as a morning devotional should be! I hope this different approach blesses and encourages you!
Read Luke 5:27-32
Jesus is having dinner with Levi, the tax collector, after inviting him to “Follow Me.” The religious folks who despised the Jewish tax collectors, they were sinners after all, condemned Jesus for hanging out and eating with them.
Jesus’ response: the sick need the doctor, not the healthy.
Levi, an outcast in his own town and faith community, got up, left his tax collecting booth and followed Jesus. Then he threw a banquet for Jesus inviting all his tax collector/outcast friends! And Jesus was glad to be there!
Two things strike me from this passage:
Point #1: Jesus hangs out with the folks who are a mess! He says “the weak, broken, sinner is the one who needs Me… not the “confident in my own abilities and righteousness” Pharisees.
I love this story! It give me permission to admit that I am a sinner, sick and in need. Just the kind of person that Jesus wants to hang out with! (deep sigh of relief!) I can stop pretending that I have it all together. I can let my weakness and struggles reveal my need for Jesus instead of beating myself up for having them.
Do you do that? Do you pick up the bat and beat yourself up with “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s?” Do you berate yourself for not being stronger, better, holier?
I do! I have a GREAT batting average when it comes to being hard on myself. Maybe I can use the excuse” I beat myself up for my weakness and frailties” when the doctor asks how I broke my nose! (Yes, I broke my nose… long story for another day. But suffice it to say that I have berated myself for how it happened and have pretty much covered all the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s!)
Even in my gratitude for my friend’s feedback, I had a few moments of batting practice…“I should have known better.” “I should have had her read it before I posted, because now I blew it.” “What was I thinking when I wrote that way.” Shame took center stage and I had a choice to make. I could hide and wallow in shame, or I could struggle and grow and share the journey with you.
I put down the bat, took a deep breath and reassured myself that it is okay to make a mistake.
I realized that my writing from in an academic style is a way that I hide my insecurity and fears of being vulnerable and transparent. I know how to exegete a passage, I can dive deep into theory and thought with the best of them… but to write from my story…. to show my imperfections and failings…to admit that what you all think of me matters… and if you find out that I am not so shiny and put together? Yikes! that leaves me exposed and struggling.
I can imagine Jesus saying, “of course you struggle, put down the bat and stop beating yourself up. You don’t have to have it all together, you just have to admit your need for ME and let ME live and work in and through you and your weaknesses and struggles. Stop trying to do it all on your own. There is no shame in having struggles, insecurities, or making mistakes. Let’s hang out and work on it together
And I begin to relax… as I admit that I am weak, insecure, struggling and in need of Jesus.
Point #2: Levi got up, left his booth and followed Jesus. He took action. He left behind his tax collecting livelihood, his security- the things he hid behind to avoid the struggle and sin he may have not wanted to face. Did he hide in shame… NO! He threw a party and invited his friends.
I can imagine Levi saying to all his tax collecting buddies- “hey, I am a mess, and so are you, but I met a guy who I think can help us change all that… you gotta come meet him! It means leaving behind some things we think are important or are afraid we can’t live without, but I think you will find out it is worth it!”
When Jesus says, “follow Me” – what will you have to leave behind?
Me??? I have to leave behind the “I have it all together mask,” the “people pleaser mask,” the just try harder” mask and of course… the bat!
Part of me is excited about this prospect… and another part is scared… because what will I do without all my tools, trappings and masks? I will be exposed, vulnerable and in need.
And that is the point… right? The point where we no longer live in self-reliance and pride… but realize that we need Jesus…and we lean into Him and find rest.
What are your “take aways” from this passage?
Where do you see yourself in the story?
Are you willing to Dare Greatly and embrace your vulnerability and imperfections?
Lectionary Readings for today: Isa 58:9-14, Psalm 86: 1-6, Luke 5:27-32
Brene Brown’s TED talk : The power of vulnerability
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about ½ hour a day)
Read on Day 4: Matthew 19-24