LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE…..embrace CHANGE in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE….. in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY
“The Lord Tabernacles in Weakness”
My plate of “Ps” is getting full as I think about the sixth “P” that the Lord placed on my plate of life five years ago. Today I am focusing upon Permitting Change. Possessing Change and Permitting Change seem to fit together. Last week I described possession as involving ownership and responsibility. Now I define permitting change as consenting to something new. Since we were already in our new home, it seemed strange that I should still have to permit or allow change, but this was the situation in which I found myself. At this time five years ago, I was still struggling with yielding 100% of my consent to the condition and status of everything in our new home.
I had a dialogue with the Lord that I will share in the following paragraphs.
I said, “I can do it myself!”
The Lord said, “I oppose the proud but show favor to the humble.” (taken from James 4:6)
I still wanted to make everything perfect. I still thought I could do everything by myself. I was expending all my physical strength on projects around the house and forgetting to rely on God’s strength. I had not thought of myself as being prideful but this was the word the Lord used to describe my emotions. I had been too independent. The Lord could not help me if I did not want His help. The Lord’s strength was there for me if I would only admit my inability to accomplish everything on my own. Not only could I not permit change but I also could not permit God to help me make the change.
I said, “I can’t do it myself:”
The Lord said, “Come near to Me and I will come near to you.” (taken from James 4:8)
In order for me to keep moving forward on my personal journey of change, I had to admit that I could not make everything perfect under my own power. I needed God’s help. I had pushed God away and was trying to achieve perfection on my own. I had become exhausted physically and emotionally, not to mention spiritually. I finally was willing to cry out to the Lord for help. All I had to do was ask for His presence and immediately I felt a peace that had escaped me. At first I timidly held out my hand to Him. In turn, the Lord firmly took hold of my hand. With my hand in His hand, the Lord helped me continue to move forward with my Life-Journey-Change experience. It was harder for me to achieve it by myself because I was trying to do it according to how I thought it should be done rather than according to God’s plan. I could not do it by myself, and neither did I need to do it by myself.
I said, “Lord, help me!”
The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
When I admitted my inability to expediently do all the things that needed to be done, I felt God’s strength helping me to do one task at a time. I felt God’s presence empowering me to be content with things as they were. God’s grace not only helped me to do what had to be done, but His grace also helped me let go of things that did not have to be done immediately. Being weak became an advantage for me because I was able to experience God’s presence and power in a way I had never previously encountered it. I experienced the truth of the scriptures that say without the Lord I can do nothing (John 5:5) but with Christ’s strength I can do all things (Philippians 4:13) because God’s strength is perfect in my weakness! (II Corinthians 12:9)
About the same time as when I had this conversation with the Lord, our pastor gave a Sunday morning message entitled, “The Lord Tabernacles in Weakness.” He spoke about the 53 miles between Athens and Corinth as being the hard road that Paul traveled. He also spoke about what Paul learned while traveling these miles. We had only traveled approximately 25 miles from Webster to Henrietta but at times the journey had seemed hard. Pastor Phil shared about how this journey for Paul had been a lesson in humility that helped him in his future years of spreading the gospel.
Later that Sunday afternoon, I thought more about the morning’s message. I truly identified with Paul. Like this man who became a great missionary, there were some lessons for me to learn while on my journey. Humility was one of those lessons. Looking more closely at the scripture in II Corinthians 12:9, I found two points that stood out to me. The first point was from the beginning of the verse that says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In these words, I came to understand that I could exchange my weakness for Jesus’ grace which was His strength. The second point was found in the last part of the verse saying, “My strength is made perfect is weakness.” If I would admit that I felt weak, I would then have the privilege of being made strong through the outpouring of Jesus’ power and strength. These insights helped me to permit change in my life because God was helping me consent to this change. The Lord gave me my phrase for this “P” change from the title of the sermon I had heard that morning. “The Lord Tabernacles in Weakness.”
I liked the phrase “The Lord Tabernacles in Weakness,” but what did tabernacle mean when it was used as a verb? It is not a term I hear used in today’s conversations. The definition that I found said that it meant to dwell temporarily. So, to put it in context, I was saying that the Lord temporarily dwells in weakness. Why does He just dwell there for a period of time rather than taking up permanent residence? I came to the conclusion that while God resides in my weakness, He is actively changing my weakness into strength. Consequently, weakness does not remain where the Lord is present. (I will develop the word tabernacle more fully in the Bible Study post this week when I consider the word as both a noun and a verb.)
I came to the conclusion that I had to permit change to occur as God desired, not how I anticipated it. The “P” of Permitting Change in this Life-Journey-Change scenario was hard for me because I had tried to do it by myself rather than asking for God’s help. I had to give God permission to do it His way. I was reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 when the Lord declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thought than your thoughts.” This was the change God has chosen for us and I had to humbly permit it.
Yes, there are still times that I like to be independent and do not like to be told how I am to do something. However, I needed to learn that if this Life-Journey-Change was to be successfully completed I had to permit the Lord to help me. This was a lesson I needed to learn physically and spiritually. The insight was applicable for five years ago and it is still valid for today.
Humbly I now cry, “Lord, I am sorry for being prideful. I truly am weak!”
Now I hear God whispering back to me, “I tabernacle in weakness.”