You know how you hear or see something multiple times in a week and how you feel like, ‘ok, God, i hear/see you. i’ll get it out.’
To be clear, I don’t always like that. Like this one, for instance. Being vulnerable is hard. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s the lesson I’m about to attempt to articulate.
I decided to ride a marathon Friday night. I like saying that I rode a marathon because everyone knows what a marathon is and so they get all excited and congratulatory and they miss that I say I rode one. Because I would never say I ran a marathon. Nope. You’ll never hear or see those words from me. But every now and again, I’ll bust one out on my bike. It wasn’t super easy on a limestone trail but it was totally worth it.
Also, I’m going to just admit something that might upset people. I ride with my air pods (nope, not ear buds … air pods. because i’m cool like that.) in and so it’s possible I can’t hear anyone behind me attempting to pass. Before you do decide you’re upset, I ride so fast no one will pass me. I kid, I kid. A little.
I have to listen to something though because otherwise, it’s just me and my thoughts and lately? That is going to make for a terrible marathon. So I listen to podcasts and this ride included one from one of my very favorites (thanks, Doug and Sally for the reco), Judah Smith.
In this episode, he was sharing a message about Jacob. If you recall anything about Jacob, he was a wrestler. I remember how excited my Grandpa, James John, would get about wrestling … such icons as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, etc. But Jacob was not this kind of a wrestler. He wrestled with God. Or at least, that’s how Scripture describes it. Because I heard two different messages about the story of Jacob this past weekend, I want to talk about what I took away (I’ll be brief, I promise). And of course, these are my thoughts. My disclaimer here is that I’m not a pastor or anyone actually knowledgable so don’t take my words as gospel (see what I did there?).
Jacob feels like one of those people many of us can relate to. I appreciate those people in the Bible. Because Mary I am not. To be frank, Jacob was kind of a putz for a good chunk of his life (and I kinda have to blame his mom for some enabling behavior … sorry, moms). At some point, he has a dream that shifts his focus and some time after, he engages in a pretty intense wrestling match. This was an all-night match that was, from what I can gather, between Jacob and a man and then, at the very end, God who steps in (maybe he tagged in?) and touches Jacob both immediately and permanently inuring his hip. This injury causes Jacob to have a lasting limp as well as the blessing of a new name — Israel.
I found it super interesting that only after being touched by God was there a visible and obvious weakness to Jacob. You probably wouldn’t have known before what kind of man he was unless you actually knew him and my gut says, not that many people actually did know him. But now … well, now it’s obvious that Jacob both can’t walk what we would consider normally and that, in that, he had received a gift.
I honestly love this.
I feel like I’m fairly open here when I’m struggling. I know people have asked me and I’ve told some but most often, I do my very best to put on a brave face and go on about my day because I don’t want to be known that much. I think, mostly, I don’t want to be a burden. Everyone has enough of their own ‘stuff.’ And frankly, the first time I felt like I was ‘touched’ in this way was wayyyyyyy back in 2012. So, Staci, it’s been seven years; figure yourself out. Ya know? But I also see, as with Jacob, the benefit to being okay with sharing our weaknesses because that’s what authenticity is. And, it may even be a result of our being touched by God that it becomes a bit more obvious.
Ever feel like saying, ‘stop touching me!’?
But the truth is, I don’t feel like I’m honoring the touch Christ has given me by pretending to be strong. And as hard as it is, I need to continue to get a little bit more comfortable in my weakness because, if you recall, His power is made perfect in our weakness. And don’t I want others to see His power come through me? Why yes, yes I do.
So, I’m not strong, friends. I’m as weak as they come (I’m a fragile human soul so don’t touch me too hard!), but gosh darn it, I will love you for your weakness too. And I just love so hard. I really do. I don’t (and won’t) consider that a weakness. It’s just part of the touch that Christ gave me. I feel like so often the Church is so quick to put that same brave face on like, ‘hey, we’ve got all this! you are welcome here but don’t be x, y or z. or fix that x, y, or z thing in six months and you’ll still be welcome here!’ Nope. That’s not love. Not in the way Jesus does it. He says you just love. And that’s when He gets the glory because then others will see Him in me instead of me in me. Because, really, I’m just as much of a putz as Jacob. Except I will never have multiple husbands nor will I have eleven children. Amen.
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size–abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG