Sometimes when I consider how very weak I am, I get discouraged. I think about how far I have to go, how little willpower I possess, how easily I fall or get hung up or lose my balance. I look at where I want to go, and it seems like the finish line is worlds away, and while I should be running I seem to be limping along. Meanwhile, other people are trotting right past me. They seem to be having an easy time of it. While I, weak, weary, wheezing under the weight of my own weakness, am barely getting by.
Today was one of those days. I was thinking of things I said that I wish I hadn’t. I was remembering ways that I acted in sight of my nine year old that were certainly not gracious or godly. I was wondering if I will ever see some sign that I am growing to become more like Christ, since I seem to be continually showing the world that I am nothing like Him at all.
I dwelled on those thoughts all morning long. Then we went to visit a church member and friend who is currently living in a rehab facility, trying to regain his strength after a major surgery. A matter of days ago he was unable to get out of bed at all, but today he is moving around with the help of a walker and exercising with weights and machines. I asked if he feels like he’s getting stronger. He said he is still really weak. But, he told us that when he looks back three days ago and considers how weak he was then, he can see that he is making progress.
He seemed to be in good spirits, and I could tell he felt determined to reach the point where his therapists will decide he is ready to go home to his sweet wife. He certainly wasn’t running up and down the hallways, but he was up and moving during the day. He might easily have been discouraged if he were looking at how far he has to go before he will reach his goal, but instead he was choosing to look at how far he has come.
Maybe this is a key to living the Christian life with a sense of joy and victory instead of dread and defeat. Maybe instead of dwelling on how far from perfect we are, we should take a look at how far we’ve come in the past year. Maybe we should focus on how much our attitude has improved, or how God has revealed an area of sin to us that we are working to eliminate from our lives. Maybe we should consider how much God’s grace has helped to dig us out of various pits that we once lived in, how His mercy has set us on a solid foundation, and how His Spirit living in us has begun to build something amazing, despite our shortcomings and our failures.
Maybe instead of focusing on how far we feel from arriving as Christians, we should dwell on how far He has brought us from what we once were.
After all, planting ourselves in doubt and pessimism is really saying to God that we don’t believe that He can take even the most hardened sinner and transform her into the image of Christ. When we feel tempted to wallow in our fear that we will never change, we must stop and remember all of the miracles that God has worked inside us so far. Sure, we still mess up a lot and let our selfishness and pride and meanness get in the way of our progress, but we cannot deny that God is at work in us. It’s so obvious when we look at where we were just a short time ago.
Do you see it? Don’t miss what God has done.
He is working. In my life, in yours, and in a rehab hospital in West Texas. I pray that we will remember where we want to go without ever forgetting where we’ve been. In the looking back, we can so clearly see what God can do. He never stops working on us. And, we must never stop believing that He can keep us moving in the right direction all the way up until it’s time to go home.
We may wobble and sway, but our weakness is like a spotlight on His strength. We mess up, but He doesn’t. We fall, He catches us. We agonize, He is peace. We cry because we are so weak, He wipes away every tear with His strong hand. There is no way to make Him less. But, when we look back on all He has done, we can show the world how much more He is than they even know. See where you’ve been.
See what He’s done.
I came in a little while ago from my morning prayer walk. Having at times during it tearfully lamented all the attitudes and areas of my heart that I had hoped by now to have greater victory in. Begging the Lord to take any measures He sees fit to make me more pleasing and useful to Him.
Like you, I was also reminded though of the very great distance indeed between where I once was and where He has brought me to. I was also encouraged by the fact that the very act of longing for more of Him and His holiness is itself a miracle of His grace. It seems the more He matures me, which He IS doing, the more undone I feel.
Then I check my email and here’s the notification for this post Melissa 🙂
You’re in a good place dear sister, My very best friend on this earth (his name is Elijah) a redeemed mainline heroin addict, whom like myself, the Lord our God snatched from the jaws of death more times than he can count, is in the middle of a season exactly like this as well.
He and I got saved days apart 30 years ago this month. My prayer is that you have somebody as strong and sold out as him to walk with together through this Romans 7 war.
This was a magnificently well written, encouraging and edifying piece. That it from a militant complementarian man 17 years your senior.
Thanks for your kind words, Greg!
Found your site on challies.com today and I pop over to find a post that is just what needs to be said for where I am right now. Two days of sporadic tears and I just needed a reminder to see the miles of markers God has put down in my life. Thanks
I’m so glad you stopped by! I hope you’ll stick around, and I pray you have a better day today!
I can really identify with your post Melissa. And with the comments made here also.
Psalm 86:11 contains a prayer that has often been the cry of my heart when I am feeling defeated. The second half of this verse is specifically what I am referring to when I find myself in that place: Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name.
Surely that is a prayer that we can expect Him to be answering more and more. To be more and more single minded in our devotion to Him and to therefore be able to show that more and more in our daily actions.
He is our Shepherd! And He sees the whole beautiful picture .. we don’t, but we can trust Him! Thank you!
Rachel, thank you for reading and for this comment!!