I read a devotional the other day which didnít sit very well with me. Lots of well-meaning people attempt to give encouragement by advising us to have confidence in ourselves, to believe that what we followers of Christ have inside us when we wake up every morning is adequate equipment to face the day. Oh, Lord have mercy, I canít agree with that at all.
Iím 55 years old. Iím wracked with the pain of arthritis, I have occasional gout attacks on top of that, and I have suffered from fibromyalgia (unexplainable muscle pain and crushing fatigue) since I was 17. I am physically inadequate to get up, go to work, and teach students all day. As if that werenít bad enough, I had parents who not only were completely disinterested in helping me get ready for life as an adult, they abused me and then deliberately tried to keep me in a dependent state. Getting myself free from their influence is still an ongoing battle. And then, being positive, encouraging and upbeat when all of these things are gnawing at me Ė the physical pain and the emotional flashbacks from PTSD Ė makes me feel like Iím on a constant walk on a tightrope. I can fall off balance so easily.
But fortunately, I have Jesus Christ in my life. I am learning to forgive, and Iím learning to give Him the few resources I have to bless and multiply. What are 2 fish and 7 loaves among a multitude? What are painful limbs and a body that feels deflated of energy among so many students? But every day, I can see the truth beyond the physical reality of my situation. Every day, when I commit my weak and painful body to the Lordís will, He takes what I have and stretches it to fit His will.
I canít look at my disabilities, physical and emotional, and get anything worthwhile done. Even my doctor is flabbergasted that Iím holding down a job. The only reason I have the confidence to get up in the morning is this: I know that God has a plan, and He will make things work out. He will at the very least make things OK. He will hold back most of the potential disasters, so I donít have to struggle with a thousand worries in my head.
I canít imagine being confident in myself. I donít have a whole lot to offer, really, in my little lunch basket of life. But like great-great-great Grandfather Moses, I have a path that the Lord has prepared for me. Itís not one that I had the power to hack out of the wilderness with a machete, and itís not one I could wade through with rubber boots. No, my path is like the parted Red Sea. If I donít walk in the narrow, dry space in which the Lord has blown apart the waters for me, Iíll get lost in the current. I canít even stand around too long staring at the fish in that wall of water Ė it will sidetrack me.
I canít look at my disabled body, or my few achievements, or my awful past. I have to keep looking at the Lord and the things He has done for me. I canít place my confidence in myself. Only Christ can take the little bit that Iíve got and use it for His glory.