you then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2 timothy 2:1]
weakness is powerful. weakness is powerful in the hands of Jesus.
i remember the night well. i was laying on the ground atop a mountain with my 10 year old son will. we were on a father/son experience i took both my boys on at 10 to usher them into an ongoing conversation about Jesus and manhood. on this trip, we purposely took less food than we needed and no shelter. besides the conversation, the point was to stretch them to see that they could do more than they could imagine. so we had to ration food, find cover, build a fire, etc. now, i’m not a mountain man. while i have plenty of camping experience, i don’t fancy myself an army ranger or a bear grylls. in the wild, i often feel more like elmer fudd. but here I was on the side of a mountain with a 10 year old wondering who was getting stretched more.
i finally dosed off, only to be awakened by my son shaking me and saying, “dad! look at that lightning!” as i finally came to and focused across the horizon, it was stunning – an amazing display of light and sound and the majesty of God. then, he said, “dad, is that coming toward us?” at that moment, every bit of strength i had left my body as i responded with a confident, “well, looks that way. we better get up and move down this mountain.” i was more than a little afraid as we quickly packed up and headed down a dark path scurrying for any cover like roaches running for cover when lights go on in a house.
fear exposed a deep sense of weakness i had. and i will be honest, i don’t like weakness being exposed in me. don’t like being weak or feeling weak. in one sense, it is not bad. i don’t want people to get hurt that i’m leading. in another sense, it is not good. it is pride that doesn’t want to be exposed in my life. can you relate?
God constantly allows our weaknesses to be exposed – so we will rely on his strength and see that he alone is our strength.
in 2 timothy 2:1, paul address his spiritual son after exposing a weakness of timothy’s in chapter 1. that weakness, timothy often allowed fear to rule him. now paul seeks to build up timothy, and us, and he begins with this statement, “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” notice the full path by which God’s strength comes to you and i.
1) we are exposed as weak and we recognize our need for strength from outside us, from God. we don’t hide it or act strong. we admit weakness and see God as our only strength. 2) we get this strength by a gift (grace) we receive from God. we don’t earn strength by our goodness or our any other thing we could ever do. it is a gift. 3) this gift is given to us through the work and person of Jesus. Jesus took our weaknesses (every fault and sin) and bore them on the cross so he could give us his presence – who is Strength.
we ran off the mountain, found a little shelter to hide in, and watched the storm pass over us. it was an amazing but crazy (fearful) night. i remember hoping in one moment my little boy wouldn’t think I was weak – while in another moment hearing my Father say, “i am so thankful that you see you are weak. own it!” i don’t remember our exact conversation but i do remember confessing to God and will, i had acted brave when in truth i was afraid.
that night i began to learn that weakness is not my enemy or my shame. i will be honest, it is still not my best friend. but it is the most common path God takes us down to empower us with his strength. paul knew this as well. he wasn’t preaching at timothy, he was sharing from a work God was doing in him. “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2 corinthians 12:9]
allow the Lord to examine your heart and life today. where is a weakness he longs for you to own so that he can empower you with his strength. stop hiding it. he can see it. confess it. offer yourself in all your weakness to him and ask God for his grace to be “sufficient” in your weakness – so that the “power of Christ may rest” on you.
Lord thank you for weakness. weakness is powerful. weakness is powerful in the hands of Jesus. help me today Lord confess and offer up my weakness so your power may rest on me. in Jesus name – amen!
~ john ryan