Another round lost.
For the past two weeks I’ve been dealing with the feeling of never getting ahead. It’s the two steps forward, three steps back syndrome. I’ve got something in my life right now that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to master it, conquer it, or get the break I need. It’s dumb. It’s frustrating. It’s also happens to be a stupid card game called, ‘Skip-Bo’. I know it’s not some major life crisis but I think it’s starting to get to me. I just can’t seem to win. I’ve used every brain cell of strategy I can muster to think ahead and stack my hand but without fail, I lose miserably. To dig the knife of defeat even deeper, I am losing to my wife…and with every agonizing minute of this long trail of defeat, she is gloating in her parade of triumph. We played a round last week and I swear I only had two cards left in my deck. She had at least if not more than 10. I kid you not, in a matter of two plays and in no less than 5 minutes and in one fail swoop, she emptied her entire deck! I sat in utter shock. As it usually goes, I started muttering words like, ‘rigged’, ‘unfair’, and ‘this is bullcrap’ while she gives a hearty laugh, reshuffles the deck and somewhat lovingly asks, ‘want to try again honey?’ There’s no justice.
I know it’s just a crazy card game, but life itself can be as brutal as Skip-Bo sometimes. For years I’ve heard it preached, “God will never give you more than you can handle. ” But whoever made that line up either didn’t lose enough in Skip-Bo or didn’t read their Bible. I admit that phrase sounds comforting, but it’s not true and it’s definitely not biblical. Do you really think the Apostle Paul felt God would not give him more than he could handle? Paul, the guy whose church meetings would often turn into a full blown riot? He’d been kicked out of towns more than once. He was beaten and whipped more times than Jesus was. Left for dead. People wished he was dead and plotted it. Christians had a hard time with him and even failed to recognize him as an apostle. Could we handle all that? Not likely. Paul couldn’t either. He has a vision about the same time he was being stoned to death and in his vision he stood before the Lord pleading that He take away the constant buffeting (thorn) from the devil. To which the Lord replied,
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
Back to the phrase. I Corinthians 10:12 talks about us being tempted with sin and how God will provide us an escape when it gets to be too much. That’s where some preachers got the, ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ from. It has nothing to do with life’s circumstances. When the Lord responded to Paul in the above verse, I’m sure it wasn’t quite the answer Paul was looking for at the time but as Paul soon discovered, it happened to actually be the perfect answer. The truth is, there are some things in life we won’t win on our own. Some of those things we can’t get around no matter how much harder, smarter and faster we work. Yes it’s dumb. Yes it’s frustrating and it’s way more complex than Skip-Bo. It’s called weakness. An inability to produce results. We all have them. But what we all need and what Paul needed, was God’s perspective when it comes to weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 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.
Paul had a massive paradigm shift that day. He discovered that living for God means you own who you are. All of it! The good, the bad and the ugly and you delight in it. You’ve got to own it. It means you stop comparing your weaknesses to another person’s strengths. It starts with delightfully accepting yourself and all your shortcomings. They are yours! If you’re like me, it doesn’t compute to our ‘winner takes it all’ human minds. However something ‘God’ happens when we accept our weaknesses. There comes a strength from Heaven. According to Heaven, we don’t lose when we accept our weakness. Instead, it’s the key to allowing God’s grace to step in and help. It converts into real strength. It makes the heart grow stronger. It affects how we see, how we speak and eventually how we do business. As in Paul’s case, it changes our perspective so much that we communicate entirely different. We brag about being weak. We get pumped at what we cannot do.
I guess it’s cheers to losing another round!