Wasteland Kings

If dependence is the goal, weakness is the advantage. 

I didn’t come up with that phrase. One of my pastors did. I have found myself using it often in the last few weeks though. 

It’s been a great reminder during the highs and lows of the last month. If you read my most recent post, you heard about the great adventure God gave me in Albania. 

My post focused on my team because great fellowship and teamwork are some of my favorite things. Enjoying those things can be a double edged sword though. While I came back to a wonderful home, I didn’t wake up and have breakfast (and every other meal) with my team. 

There also wasn’t a morning devotional where we talked about what God is teaching us. And I didn’t get to charge into doing work for the kingdom standing shoulder to shoulder with other believers. It was a dramatic transition and it hurt. 

My first reaction to this pain was to deny it’s existence. This started even before I got home. I repeated to myself the same thing multiple times on the last couple days of the trip.

‘It’s not gonna be as bad as past trips.’

I thought going through the same emotional rollercoaster in years past would prepare me. Surely I could handle it this time. The problem is getting hit in the gut does not make the next hit hurt less. 

When the transition impacted me the same as before, I chalked it up to let lag. I told myself I would get over it. This happened even as I warned the others on the trip to not ignore this problem.

I should have listened to my own advice. God likes to use imperfect people to deliver perfect truths. Often, those imperfect people need those truths just as much as the listeners.

I needed my next piece of advice even more. When I talked to teammates about dealing with transitioning home, I told them to lean into God. This advice came from knowing the truth behind the idea of ‘weakness is an advantage’. 

Like many hard times, God is the best source of comfort and strength when I transition home. It’s not my first instinct to run to him though. My first thoughts tend to be plans on how to cope with painful or difficult things in life. 

Coping can take on many forms. 

If it makes me feel good, I want it. My hope is to cover up all the bad feelings with enough good feelings. This is the worst plan and it somehow gets the most attempts.

Though God has provided for me in the past, why don’t I run to him first? I think the answer is I don’t like the idea of being weak. It makes my stomach tighten to even admit my weakness to myself. 

There’s probably a variety of reasons for this. Maybe I wrongly assume some of my rejections or wounds earlier in my life were a result of weakness. Maybe I hope to pretend to be strong until both the old and new wounds heal. 

For one, every heart can be wounded; from the weakest to the strongest. And for two, hoping to pretend at strength until healing comes does not work. I have tried it on quite a few occasions and some of the attempts were measured in years. 

During those years, I pretended at strength while I felt great pain inside.

Being hurt is a hard place to be. In my experience though, it’s not the worst place to be. I say that because it’s much easier for me to experience God’s love while I am hurting.

I still struggle with trying to earn God’s love or thinking that I have to be valuable enough for him to care about me. The truth is God loved me while I was his enemy and his love has neither increased or decreased. His value of me was beyond my comprehension when I offered him nothing.

‘but God shows his for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8

His value of me would have stayed the same if I trusted in Christ moments before I left this world.

This is a hard truth to get from my head to my heart. It is easier when I am weak and hurting though. During those times, my heart knows I have nothing to offer God.

One of my pastors describes children as need surrounded by noise. This description has fit me on more than a few occasions even after I left my childhood behind. Being need surrounded by noise is not always the easiest time.

That said, those times have been incredible opportunities to experience God’s love for me. In those times, I know I can’t depend on myself to offer anything to God or other people. God still pours his love out to me and invites me to experience intimacy with him.

It is hard to even write those words without getting emotional.

I don’t know what it looks like to walk through this season of your life. It’s fair to assume there is something difficult about it or that difficulty might arrive soon. I am not happy about hard circumstances.

I am telling you an opportunity sits in front of you or is on it’s way. It’s an opportunity to learn the value of dependence. It’s an opportunity for your heart to learn about God’s love for you.

I will not think less of you if you don’t take those opportunities. Many of my opportunities have come and gone. More importantly, God will not be upset, disappointed, or think less of you for not taking the opportunity.

He doesn’t hope for you to measure up. He hopes for you to learn more about how much he cares about you. And for you to experience that care.

What’s a difficulty in your life, big or small, that you can take to God today? Can you rest today in knowing that you don’t have the strength to conquer every problem in your life? Can you let your heart sit in the truth that God’s care for you has nothing to do with your strength or ability to handle life?

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This Team

Matthew Rial