Do you ever find yourself driving to an event you’re committed to, or a service you will lead, and dreading your arrival? Can I admit that I do? In fact, the way that I feel on the way to so many events is often darkened by this negative anticipation. It’s not about who will be present or even the content of the program or responsibility. It’s more that my first instinct is how much pressure is on me. It’s exhausting on the way there to think about how little energy I have in my storehouse and how much more will surely be asked of me at the upcoming event.
That deep inhale as I step out of my car and smile bright as I greet students walking up, or the long pause to breathe before beginning to give instructions to my bandmates or volunteers, that’s where I feel it. That last breath seems like it might be the end of my reserves, the last little bit of energy I can muster, before I totally wipe out and give up. And then who would take care of all those responsibilities I’m juggling?
In fact, this isn’t limited to big events or services. This is sometimes how I feel in the morning just thinking about the upcoming day. Ever wake up, even if you have the luxury of getting a significant amount of sleep, and already feel tired? This is a weariness that is so familiar to me. It isn’t the kind that gets fixed after a Saturday morning sleeping in. It’s the kind of soul-tired that comes from my ceaseless striving.
This is a wall for me. It seems unavoidable and indestructible. My limits feel ever-present to me, and I’m certain I’ll never be able to do enough. Where’s the hope for those of us who feel this way? I want big answers and complete solutions. I want God to gift me with enough energy and patience for every day of the rest of my life, so that I can handle everything, and will never fall short.
Have you caught the problem with this whole line of thinking? It’s all about me. It’s about my job, my energy, my expectations, my perceptions, and my performance.
When I get sucked into this toxic whirlpool of thinking that is fully focused on myself, I need a reminder of the greatest truth about the gospel - it’s not about me, it’s about God. What makes His message so countercultural and revolutionary for us, no matter what century it’s preached, read, or meditated upon, is precisely that - it’s about a God who chooses us, who rescues us, who works through us, and who delights in us.
In fact, His power is so supernatural that it actually works best in the opposite situations that we expect it to. This is a God who chose ordinary, everyday people to be His disciples, and marginalized women to be His spokespeople. This very God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) He instructs us that we can actually boast in our weaknesses, so that God’s power may be magnified in our shortcomings.
It bears repeating that this particular aim of the Lord’s is to direct people’s focus to Him and away from us. This takes all my self-focused insecurities and anxieties and says, your new purpose is to redirect attention and praise to God and away from yourself. The key is that only in trusting God with that will those shortcomings be redeemed.
The real goal of my life and all my efforts is this to help people connect to God and find their hope, intimacy, and security in Him. That starts with me believing that, as well as operating out of the power that offers. If I approached my events, my commitments, and my leadership with this in mind, I would find myself less often bemoaning my own shortcomings and so much more often thanking God that He has none. He is always faithful to give us breath and patience and light to shine, and it is His fullness we call on, rejoicing that all is not lost when we feel empty.