WIMD Pulse - June 2012
Chicken for Dinner .... Again?
By Anita Demlow, MD
Daughter: “What's for dinner, Mom?”
Mom answers firmly, hoping for a positive response: “We're having chicken.”
Daughter answers in a polite, resolute tone: "Okay...but we just had that two days ago."
Lately, I have felt like one of my teenagers as I have been given the same meal everywhere I turn for spiritual food. "God's POWER is made perfect IN your WEAKNESS." 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (NIV 1984).
My response has been, "Okay, but we went over that last week, and the week before that."
Honestly, I do not know the exact words of His reply to me, but I keep finding "chicken" on my spiritual plate. I know this is for my good and His glory. So I have resolutely begun pondering some of the examples that have been brought to my attention recently from the Bible's extensive menu of people who are used by God in their weakness.
Consider Moses who showed his feelings of inadequacy in Exodus 3:11-4:16. Despite those feelings, he "...by faith…refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated...He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:24-30, NIV 1984). He repeatedly, but not perfectly, led the people to exhibit total dependence on God for deliverance; when they looked to God, they were blessed and God was glorified. However, when Moses relied on what was comfortable from past experience and disobeyed the Lord's instruction by striking the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it, God punished him and Aaron (Numbers 20:1-13).
Consider Gideon who responded to God's call in Judges 6 with questions. “‘But LORD,’ Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you…’” (Judges 6:15-16, NIV 1984). And we know the rest of that favorite story from Judges 7. By whittling his fighting force down to 300 men armed with horns and torches in empty jars, God removed any temptation toward self-sufficiency from Gideon and his men, and the Lord gave them the victory. Afterward, Gideon created an ephod from the gold earrings given as gifts from the Israelites, who were also delivered from the Midianites tyranny by Gideon's army. There is no record in Judges 8 of God directing him to do so; despite likely good intentions, it is recorded that the Israelites worshipped the ephod as an idol and "…it became a snare to Gideon and his family" (Judges 8:27b, NIV 1984).
Consider King Jehoshaphat who Scripture demonstrates to be a flawed leader when he relied on his own wisdom and kingly might, as detailed in 2 Chronicles 18 and 20:31-37. When he was faced with overwhelming odds from an invasion force, 2 Chronicles 20:12-29 shows that he assembled the people before the LORD, fasted and prayed. He prayed, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:12b, NIV 1984). God responded and Jehoshaphat instructed his people to have faith in the LORD and appointed men to sing praise songs. They sang, "Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever," as they marched to the battle that the Lord won for them before they arrived (2 Chronicles 20:21b, NIV 1984).
Consider David who was the youngest brother, shepherd and musician but became strong in the spirit of the Lord when he was anointed future king of Israel by Samuel. He shed the protective armor and weapons of man, and stood up to the giant who was blaspheming God. God used him to kill Goliath with a simple slingshot, because he KNEW THE LIVING GOD he served (1 Samuel 16-17). After David became King of Israel, he fell deeper and deeper into sin and complacency, bringing calamity on himself and his household as 2 Samuel 11-14 documents.
As I have contemplated these examples from Scripture over the past few days, I am now humbled and recognize why I am being served the same spiritual meal. I am not done "running my race" and there is plenty of time for me to get off course just as these men of God did. As you reflect on this "menu" today, pray along with me for the Lord to help you see the truth about the way you are living. Ask Him to reveal where you might be using weakness and inadequacy as an excuse, or conversely leaning on your own strength and understanding rather than acknowledging God. God gives us many gifts including technological advancements, intellect and wisdom to tempt us into self-reliance, but we are called to be clear minded and self-controlled so that we can pray, and we are called to use whatever gift we have received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:7-10).
"Lord, I praise you for your grace and mercy. I thank you for these examples from Scripture of how you work despite our weaknesses, and for this warning that our strengths can tempt us into self-reliance and complacency. Lord, please help me to not shrink back from the leadership roles you have called me to or give in to the fears of failure and humiliation, but help me to allow you to work through my weakness and inadequacy for your purposes. Lord, when it comes to parenting teens and guiding them through the traps of immorality set for them, I feel hopelessly outnumbered and often do not know what to do. Help me to keep my eyes on you. Lord, please show me where leaning on my own understanding may be ensnaring my family, harming those I lead or bringing calamity to my household. Forgive me for the sins of laziness, arrogance and unbelief that keep me from falling on my knees before you daily. Help me to trust you in the first minutes of every day in quiet prayer and reflection. Lord, help me this day and every day to do what I cannot do apart from the power of your Holy Spirit. Help me to trust in your "upside-down plan" to work through my weakness and continue to refine and sanctify me for my good, service to others and your glory. Lord, please use my reflections on your Word to be an accurate interpretation of what I believe you are teaching me, and to be used as a tool for good and not for harm in the lives of those who read this. Amen."