Making Progress

Writing doesn’t make you vulnerable until you let someone else read it.

And then, it opens you right up like a patient on the table, the critical eye of the surgeon evaluating the inner parts of you, what’s working and even what isn’t.  Even your life blood is laid bare and open to inspection.

I admit it.  I’m afraid sometimes.

Like the time I read a blog by Lysa TerKeurst, the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  She had just gotten her nails done.  It was such a simple thing.

And some of those lovely Christian women reading her sweet little blog post just about ripped her head off through the computer.

They called her all manner of horrid things, equating a nail file and some polish at a salon to being a harlot of Babylon.

Good gravy.

I’ve read about Beth Moore and the vicious, scathing letters she receives from Bible scholars and disgruntled readers.  Mary DeMuth talks about the nasty emails in her book, Everything, and how they just about crumpled her to the floor.

I’ve even ended up on email lists of people who feel the need to criticize every word every Christian writer has ever written….ever.

Blogging this way, pushing that “publish” button on the side of my screen as I finish each post, never lacks a certain amount of fear for me.  Fear I’ll offend.  Fear I’ll get it wrong.  Fear the words won’t be enough or they won’t be articulate enough, poetic enough, beautiful enough, inspirational enough, truthful enough.

I don’t sit here at the computer typing away several days a week because I’m bold or even slightly brave.  I don’t do it because I think I’m qualified or more capable.

Mostly, after all, I’m afraid.  I’m the people-pleasing girl daunted by failure, criticism and embarrassment, who’d rather sit on the sidelines and miss out on the fun than lay myself out there for everyone to see.

But if God says, “Go,” He means “go.”  And if God says, “Sing for others to hear…Write for others to read….Speak so others can listen….Dance so others can see….,” He’s asking you to be brave in Him.

For Moses, this calling was so difficult.  All he could see was his past—a murderer-turned-fugitive, who had spent 40 years in the desert tending sheep and trying to forget his life in Egypt.

He could see his inability, his sin, his insufficiency.  He was crippled by fear.

In fact, Moses wanted God to choose somebody else, because he spoke “with faltering lips” (Exodus 6:30).

In the Message paraphrase, Moses says, “Look at me. I stutter.”

“Look at me.”  Isn’t that what we’re doing when God calls us forward, but we remind Him of others who are more equipped and how incapable we really are? We’re fixing our eyes on ourselves or maybe on the fears that we’ve made bigger than God.

But God told Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” (Exodus 7:1 NIV).

The Message says it this way:  “God told Moses, ‘Look at me…'”

It’s a re-direction of our focus, a looking up instead of a looking in or looking down or even looking ahead.

The prophet Habakkuk described it this way:

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! (Habakkuk 3:19 AMP).

God is our Strength.  He is our personal bravery.

It is He who makes us walk forward rather than standing still in terror.  Even more than that, He gives us progress when we’d rather give up or run away or fail to even begin the journey.

But only when we let go of fear (of failure, of criticism, of people, of abandonment, of getting it wrong…) can we move forward.  Only when we stop looking at our own clumsy feet or squinting ahead trying to make out any dangers along the path can we trust Him to guide us along the rocky mountain climb, making us as nimble and sure-footed as the practiced mountain deer.

Do you have any fears that are holding you back from obeying God’s call?

Christian Writers Blog Chain

Today’s post is part of the January topic, ‘Forward’ by the ChristianWriters.com Blog Chain. You can click on the links on the right side of this page to read more articles in this series.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

His Sufficiency

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 2:9

I love sharing in this devotional ministry with you, hearing what God is teaching you and how it connects up with the verses and thoughts on my heart.  Journeying together with you these past few months has been a blessing to me.  But, To be honest, there are still some days I struggle with knowing what God has called me to do right here and now in my life.  Insecurities can do that to us, trap us in a pit of questions and uncertainty and prevent us from moving forward in obedience.

You see a great deal of the time I feel ill-equipped to sit across the computer from you and share from my quiet time moments.  I’m no bestselling author, conference speaker, or Greek scholar.  This is just simple me being real with you, a girl totally in love with God’s Word and how alive it is, how relevant for our lives, how powerful to change our hearts and minds.  These are the confessions of my heart, but maybe you’ve felt some of these insecurities in your life, too.

Have you ever felt a little insufficient?  A little overwhelmed by the task God’s given you and a little underwhelmed by your ability to perform it?  A little intimidated by the confident ministry of those around you?

Today, I’m thinking about insufficiency, mostly because that’s how I feel at this moment.  I’m sitting at my kitchen table after a hectic morning of running errands, forgetting something at the store, heading back to another store, returning all the library books and then finding one more book hidden in the car after I got home, and finally running late to pick up my daughter from school.

My youngest girl dug into the Easter candy that mysteriously moved from the inaccessible high counter where I had put it onto the very accessible  floor. (Do “Not Me” and “I Don’t Know” live at your house, too?)  There are candy wrappers dotted across the carpet.  Fortunately, she doesn’t actually like to eat the candy; she just enjoys unwrapping it, so next to the candy wrappers is the chocolate all lined up in a perfectly straight row.  (That chocolate is still good, right?  Because I totally just ate some.)

The laundry is spinning in the washer and dryer and the clean clothes are piling up on the sofa all fresh and warm and in desperate need of folding and putting away.

Meanwhile, I have not yet exercised this morning, but I am excusing myself because I’ve been coughing up my lungs themselves for the last few days.

So, sick, stressed, tired, forgetful, surrounded by mess, and feeling bad for not exercising, I have waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table for some time with God.  And I need it because I’m so insufficient for all this.

Fortunately for me, my favorite Gospel event is all about insufficiency!  Jesus had been teaching a crowd of people all day and healing the sick among them.  By the time evening came, the disciples were worried.  They told Jesus, “’This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’  Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”  Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV).  The disciples certainly didn’t have enough food for a crowd of over 5000 people, but Andrew did find one little boy with a small lunch: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9 (NIV).

“How far will they go” indeed?!  This boy’s lunch was utterly insufficient.  It probably embarrassed Andrew to even mention it.  Yet, this little boy with a lunchbox willingly and in great faith gave 100% of what he had to Jesus.  Even though it was insufficient, he trusted that Jesus could use his offering.

Certainly, this boy could have worked in his own strength to catch some more fish or bake some more bread.  He could have collected small change from everyone in the crowd and trekked into town to order take-out.  Still, despite his best efforts and hard work, he would never have provided enough in his own strength.  Likewise, I can’t be enough in my own strength either. If I’m relying on my talent, skills, hard work, and ingenuity, I’ll just fail.  I can only give my all to Jesus and trust that He will multiply my offering.

Besides, it was the insufficiency of the boy’s gift that allowed Jesus to be glorified.  If that boy had somehow gathered enough food for the crowd, the story would have been about his ingenuity and generosity instead of Jesus’ compassion and miraculous power.

Even if every attendee had packed a little snack and the disciples had pooled the resources to form a buffet line, Christ would then be a master organizer or administrator—not a God of compassion who sees our need and provides for us in abundance through His great power. 

Our insufficient offerings give Jesus the opportunity to be glorified.

God never expects us to be sufficient in our strength and abilities.  If we are strong enough, together enough, talented enough, smart enough, or equipped enough in our own strength, there’s no room for God to show off in our lives and receive the glory He deserves.   The gifts we bring just become less about Him and more about us.  

And let me assure you that God is powerful in our weakness.  Sure, my day has been crazy and I don’t feel up to the task of managing it all, but after some time with God’s Word and some moments spent sharing with you, I can look around with new eyes and see Him at work.  My beautiful girls have just bounced through the kitchen after playing outside on a bright and sunny day.  They were chased in by an “enormous, gigantic, ugly black spider” and now they are cuddling together all stretched out and relaxing, little blond curls and wisps of hair falling out of ponytail holders and hair clips.  My baby girl fell asleep peacefully for a nap, tired from all of her effort spent unwrapping chocolate and the house is quiet for these few moments.  A candle is burning.  The last load of laundry is spinning away.   One of the caterpillars we’ve been studying just emerged from her chrysalis and is waving her new wings back and forth, testing them out, feeling the weight of them. 

God is always sufficient in our insufficiency.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King