I have had a recurring nightmare for years where I receive a call to play or sing somewhere important (to me) and I either cannot get there at all because of random frustrating obstacles or I do get there, usually late, and am physically unable to move. You know the dream where something is chasing you but you’re frozen? It’s like that.
9 years ago I arrived in Scotland for a really great music tour that follow another tour that had gone pretty well. We were excited because we had about 7 well advertised gigs lined up (even one at a cool church in London). The moment we landed I got sick. Laryngitis took me out and though we drove to the first location anyway, I had zero sound available when we arrived. Not even a whisper. It was the middle of winter, so it wasn’t like we could just go play tourist. I was devastated.
Fast forward 9 years and here I am again, this time with sound, just not enough strength to sing through an entire song, and I am asking the same questions I asked back then . . . Why? Why has the Lord allowed me to lose the one thing I need to have in order accomplish what he has called me to accomplish?
Weakness. Humanity. We cannot escape it. We serve a God who has the power to heal. But sometimes he chooses to work within the confines of our weaknesses instead—in my experience, he doesn’t always rescue us from discomfort but he finds ways to work around / in spite of it.
The scriptures are full of stories of men and women who were called by God to do very specific things, and yet they experienced crushing disappointments and obstacles along the way. Sarai, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Rachel wanted children desperately. Joseph was given a dream only to find himself sold into slavery, thrown into prison, forgotten and completely alone. David was anointed King and lived on the outskirts of Israel, being hunted down by a self absorbed slightly deranged king. Moses was overcome with indignation over injustice, let his wrath get the better of him, and had to flee to the desert for many years before God called him back to do his part. Israel was enslaved 400 years, then wandered 40 years in a very uncomfortable wilderness. Paul was afflicted “on every side . . . conflicts on the outside, fears within.” Hebrews 12 provides us with many other stories of men and women of faith. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised . . . “
Although “momentary affliction” may visit us from time to time nothing can stop what the Lord will do in and through our lives. Our inabilities cannot and will not impact God’s ability to enable us to continue to be a co-laborer with him. Everything we are called to do, say, write, sing, or BE is a small part of a long and beautiful narrative that God is writing. When things don’t go as expected It hurts, it stinks, it stings. But at the end of the day, the narrative isn’t about us.
What we view as a set back may actually be a moment of vision. God may choose to use us in a manner we weren’t expecting.
There is no shame in being weak. Weakness provides opportunity for the Lord to overshadow us and do an even greater work. If God’s power and love can be sent to others through my life, what should it matter how or how strong he chooses to allow me to be during the process?
Joseph thought he would rule but instead he first served where he was—in prison—he distinguished himself there and impacted many lives before he was given a platform. Sarai waited well beyond her child bearing years for a son and when she finally conceived she was given a child who would be given a child who would become ISRAEL.
I hate not being able to serve in (my) strength. But I keep coming back to 2 Corinthians: “power is perfected” in weakness. “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“Conflicts without and fears within” will not have the last word when we learn to lay down the shame and embarrassment we feel because of our humanity.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”
Peace to you all! Rest in the goodness and strength of your Savior today.