“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Have you ever had the thought that pleasing God is nearly impossible? I grew up developing negative feelings about myself. It comes out by what I call myself, like “I can’t do anything right”. That is not my true identity, because His word says so: I am His workmanship, sealed with the Holy Spirit, part of God’s house, accepted, loved, and a contributor to God’s glory.
My true identity has been hard for me to adjust to. I tend to forget the inward reality and instead focus on the outward picture. Spending time with our high school and college age grandkids over the holidays we shared the following as an encouragement to them:
Faithfulness – Not Success “But you, man (or woman) of God, flee from (the love of money), and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith...” (1Timothy 6:11-12) The Love of money is a stumbling block. It leads us to feel the need for the favor of men, to look good in comparison to others. It gives the illusion of success, rather than failure to be enough. This is a fight I face. Jesus experienced the same testing, winning the fight with scripture.
I can still wake up in the morning frazzled after reviewing past failures. It has been said that “brokenness is a conscious, core awareness that you need God in all things.” (Crawford W. Loritts, Jr.) My failures and disappointments lead me to realize that I need God.
God makes disappointments turn out for good! The most dramatic evidence of this was our experience beginning back in 1971. We were newly married with our first child, living in an apartment in Walnut Creek, California. My wife, Kay, had taken a maternity leave from her job in health education, and I was working for $3.50/hr. as an apprentice architect. Tragedy struck! She started experiencing the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. She never went back to work. What was the good? She was home developing an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ, with me, with our two daughters, and God was enough. The fight for us was to not become self-absorbed in our disappointment, but to be transformed by Jesus Christ in this testing.
I am blessed to have an encourager in my wife who challenges me to remember who I really am in Christ when I forget. “…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) I had no idea how transforming encouragement could be when I first visited our Food for the Hungry (FH) friends in Bolivia in 2010. My expectations were small. What could I do amid such poverty? I met my first sponsored child, and invited him to come to a presentation I was to make about the profession of architecture. It almost seemed cruel to be sharing this with these young people. These kids were from families with so little, some without electricity or running water. This was the start of relationships of encouragement, mentoring, letters and prayers. This past month my young friend received his certificate as a professional architect in Bolivia! Three more of our sponsored young men are following him, and will continue to receive my encouragement.
Am I enough? “Without faith it is impossible to please … God.” (Hebrews 11:6) Even when I don’t feel like enough, I trust that in Christ I am enough. To Him be the glory! The truth of who I am in Christ is transforming my life. Though outwardly I am not enough to meet all the challenges that come my way. Jesus Christ is enough. In Christ we are enough. We need not compare ourselves with others. We are free to please God! “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:8)