…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, 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
As a staff member of [nlcf], my job description consists largely of roles that I am strong in. In many ways, I get to do what I most enjoy. There are very few responsibilities that I have that I did not choose. It’s kind of the perfect job!
But there’s something you should know about me: I have a degree in Mathematics which means I like predictability and structure. That’s why I love administration, organization, and overseeing. The processes I create are all about making volunteering in ministries streamlined and predictable. The outcomes of everything I do should be known at the beginning.
But discipleship, one of the things [nlcf] is heavily focusing on, deals with people. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but I find people to be very unpredictable. They have these things called “feelings” and “opinions” and “their own ways of thinking.” How can I possibly do anything with that kind of raw material?!
At the beginning of the academic year, through my times with the Father, I sensed Him say that I needed to invest more time intentionally praying. “Sounds good, God. I’ll do that.” This recent “Lord’s Prayer” series has been a provision from the Father for my need to focus on praying to Him. And as the semester wore on, it seemed that God was saying, “Do you know why you pray?”
“I mean, I guess so. What’s up?”
“You need to realize just how powerless you are without Me. I will show you how weak you truly are; then I will show you how strong I am. You need to know you are desperate for Me in everything. Only then will you be able to accomplish My will. Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit. And this is to My glory.”
God impressed greatly upon me that I needed to pray for desperation for Him. I needed to move past the things I understood into the things of God. And I’ll tell you what, it has been a cool semester! But it has also been very challenging: I have made plans and watched them fall to pieces. I have done things with the best of intentions only to see that I end up hurting the people I care about. Experience has repeatedly shown me that I have very little to offer on my own.
I find that as I admit my powerlessness, I can approach the Father with a true sense of desperation – not of panic – but of a recognition that I am not enough. But the Father is faithful. As I release to Him more of my life and ministry, the more I find peace and see the Holy Spirit at work. The results are disproportionate to who I am. They are only the results of God’s mighty hand.
I share this with the hope of encouraging and challenging you. If you find that life is difficult right now, believe the Scriptures that say the Father loves you and is maturing you (Hebrews 12:1-12). He will come through and you will be able to be stronger. If life is completely predictable with everything under your control, I suggest that you seek the Father and ask Him what He has in mind for you. He will answer (James 1:5). And be prepared to see God work in and around you as you let go of the control you place on your life (Mark 1:14-15; John 15:1-8).
~ Brandon Thompson