My ability to serve the Lord is not dependent on my capability.
There are a number of ways to phrase this, but the truth remains the same, and it can be a bit unsettling for those of us who like to be in control. My strength isn’t always needed to do God’s will, and likewise, sometimes certain things can only be accomplished through my personal weakness or inadequacy. That’s uncomfortable, isn’t it?
We see it happen over and over again in the Old Testament. Moses doubted God could use him to lead the Israelites because he wasn’t a skilled speaker. Gideon was timid and needed assurance after assurance to take that step in faith and follow the Lord’s call on his life. David was the youngest of all his brothers, and not an obvious choice to be a chosen king of Israel. These men were called to do things outside of their birthright, skillset, and comfort zone, and it was through faithfulness despite their personal weakness and inadequacy that the Lord brought glory to Himself.
I love that the Bible includes accounts of real people with real struggles and doubts. Their weaknesses not only make them more relatable, but it better highlights the work God does in and through them.
In our weakness, His work is obvious.
In the Old Testament we read about specific times God spoke to specific people and gave them special strength to accomplish things for Him. In the New Testament we have a shift, which is a game-changer for followers of Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, we have God constantly with us to guide and strengthen us. This is a huge gift!
After Christ died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, the believers undoubtably would have missed having the physical presence of Jesus with them. At Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was given to every believer, allowing them (and us) to always have the presence of the Lord with us. From then on, the Holy Spirit was and is present and active within every true believer. He is with us in a way that is unique from the other two Persons of the Trinity. When we study the role of the Holy Spirit, we see that He is someone to rely on, who guides us and gives us strength, among other things.
Ephesians 3:16-17 says, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” It is through the Holy Spirit that we are strengthened, and through Him we have Christ through faith.
The Holy Spirit gives us purpose. In our series, Relying on the Constant Companionship of the Holy Spirit with Anne Graham Lotz, she says, “If we make ourselves available to Him, the Holy Spirit can fill us and use us and make our lives worth living.” A life without purpose will feel meaningless, but with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we will accomplish more for God than we ever dreamed. Who can measure the power of the Holy Spirit? When He calls us, equips us, and guides us, we are able to function from His power and not our own.
Some days we feel naturally strong, capable, competent, and enjoy functioning in our element. We feel like we can take on the world because we know what we’re doing and how to do it. But sometimes, especially if we are following God’s leading, we find ourselves in uncharted territory, trying to do things outside our normal comfort zone. It can be uncomfortable, discouraging, and scary. Surrendering to the Holy Spirit allows us to focus on Him, His leading, and working out of His strength and not ours.
In the past I found myself “putting God in a box” and telling Him exactly what I am capable of and what I am not. I informed Him of my strengths, my preferences, and my schedule, so that He could assign me tasks that fit nicely within my parameters. As shocking as this may sound, He didn’t agree with my demands. He didn’t modify His plans for me to fit what I thought was best. And do you know what? I am so glad He didn’t!
Instead, when I came to God with my list, He kindly but firmly told me to refocus my heart and attention on loving Him. He made me seek Him more. He revealed Himself to me and made me treasure the time I spent praying, reading, and knowing Him better. And once He had my heart in the right place, He made it clear that His plans were better than mine, and that I could trust Him. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” God, through the person of the Holy Spirit, gave me an overflowing hope so that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and do the tasks He had for me.
He provides the strength. He provides the power. He provides the hope.
He asks us to be willing and to surrender.
Isn’t that a comfort? The Lord works out of HIS strength, not ours. When we are sick, when we are tired, hurting, or painfully discouraged – isn’t it a comfort that we are able to work from His strength and not our own? Just like the Old Testament narratives, in our weakness, His strength is made more obvious. To God be the glory!