Saturday, October 15, 2011

More than I can handle

It seems all of us have had someone say something that has made a lasting impact on our lives.  It may have been a parent, a teacher, pastor, friend, a line in a movie, or something overheard from a total stranger.

This week’s blog topic is “A not-so-well-known Bible verse that impacted you.”  For me, there are several.  One is Ecclesiastes 9:4

"Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!"

Then there is Ephesians 4:29 –

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Ouch.  Not as touchy-feely as the live dog.  If you can’t say something nice …
And of course, a favorite of many people:

"God will never give you more than you handle."
(Hold on … I’m still looking for the chapter/verse reference on this one …)

You know what?  That’s not in the Bible!  The idea that “God will never give us more than we can handle” is actually a mis-quote of a verse that has a different theme to it.  It’s not so much about handling what God gives us, and all about resisting temptation:  
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1Corinthians 10:13-14)
Think about it – if God never gave us "more than we can handle" then why do people – Christians and “heathens” alike – have eating disorders?  Extra-marital affairs?  Turn to drugs?  Alcohol?  Self-injury?  Suicide?  Did God create a human race full of weaklings? 

In a word, Yes. If we did not have weaknesses in our lives, we would all be perfect.  We would have nothing to offer each other because no one would have need for anything.  We’d be equal with God, and have no need for Him.  The apostle Paul said it this way: 
"In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, 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." - 2Corinthians 12:7-9
In reading these verses, I am reminded times that I've gotten into a jam in my life because of choices that I made and the consequences of those choices. Whether the problem was with finances, relationships, taking care of my body, or anything else, I was convinced that since I, in effect, set the chain of events into motion that got me to that point, it would be up to me to act upon more decisions to get myself out.

But guess what? In the area of life where I made the bad decisions, I was weak. If I weren't weak, I would have used better judgment and not be in such a mess. I was told by someone years ago, “If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got." Trying to fix my weaknesses on my own would likely result in more poor decisions, and being stuck with no "out" in sight.

The ways God shows His grace in our lives are not always touchy-feely-warm-fuzzy-puppydog moments.  Quite often they are very humbling and sometimes painful, especially in areas where we do not want to admit God has given us more than we can handle.  By surrendering our weakness to God and asking for his help and letting God be the awesome God that he truly is, we can then attest to His power in our lives. We can say to those around us, "I was weak in this area of my life, and couldn't change it on my own. When I allowed Jesus into my life I gave my weakness over to him. It's through His power and grace that this area has changed my life for the better. And it couldn't have happened any other way."

I don't know about you, but I'm actually thankful for my weaknesses. That opens up more opportunities to see God at work in my life!


Kelly said...

Dearest Mary, I too thank God for my weaknesses...God knows I cannot take another breath without His help. I need Him so much and it is so great to know that He is in control and my cares--all are His. I want His best and not His less best. Thanks for the blessing that you are and I thank God for you! :-)

emii said...

what a great post. thank you! if we had everything we wanted, like you said.. we'd think we don't need God. i think that He likes to remind us that we do, in those moments where we.. forget. lovely post, and happy new year! found you blog on the "next blog" button :)