I am a husk.
Empty of imaginings, hollowed of epiphany.
I don’t have any words for you.
Whatever inspiration once resident between the ears took leave when this family started barking like dogs and ripping tissues from the box with abandon. The van Ryn household is in lockdown, quarantined by the common cold. Motivation has leeched from me, energy sapped, and it’s been effort enough to keep the kids from starvation, let alone write something erudite for publication.
Gah, erudite; I didn’t mean that to sound so hoity toity.
Give me coffee!
Thankfully, there’s been sun. Everything is about 25 per cent better when the sun is shining. Fact. Even sickness is that much more tolerable when the sun’s out.
So, this morning I sat on the deck in full sunstream with the pages of my Bible rustling as I asked God to plonk something ‘erudite’ into my head. Through a labyrinthine process of looking up this passage, researching that concept and following another train of thought, Paul’s monologue in 2 Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12 found lodging where I sat.
There on the deck where the breeze carried showers of blushing cherry blossom down my hair.
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness,” he said.
Paul had just finished reeling off all his hardships, all the unthinkable things he had endured as an early Christian. He had been flogged, imprisoned, beaten with sticks, flogged with whips, stoned and shipwrecked – most of them more than once. He had gone without food, sleep, water and clothes. He lived a fugitive’s life, fleeing from one city to the next, never being able to trust his neighbours or even, at times, his family.
Reading on, the monologue becomes a duologue. God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will struggle to articulate this, so bear with me here…
Imperfection is humanity’s hallmark.
The flaws, far from distancing us from perfection, are meant to draw us nearer to Him, to illuminate God’s good and loving character. The measure of our lives is not in accolades but God’s grace – love undeserved, but limitless and unconditional all the same.
Here in the sun, holding my head and mopping my nose, I’m exceedingly grateful for the reminder that God doesn’t require perfection. Even better, he delights in weaknesses because they reveal his power in me.
“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.”
That was Paul’s conclusion, and I will claim it too on this crappy week of sickness, and every other weakness lurking. I will boast in the insults and hardships, the persecutions and difficulties as Paul did.
It’s just a crummy little cold, you say. People deal with worse, much worse. But by Paul’s way of thinking, there’s no scale of weakness by which we can claim God’s grace. It’s just there. Glowing and brighter in the dark.
God isn’t more ‘God’ in the common cold situation than in the cancer patient situation, or in the feared public speaking engagement with 15 faithful ladies than with 500 VIPs. God is imminently present in every weakness, showing his character through us if we only choose his way.
When I am weak, then I am strong.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday November 2, 2015.