Romans 8:37 In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. 38 I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39 and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! CEV
Have you noticed there are times in life when a phrase or a topic of faith just “pops” up from enough different sources that you know you’re being taught something new? For some time now I’ve been pondering something I wouldn’t necessarily want more of; weakness. But not weakness as inadequacy, mind you, but the conversion of weakness to need and dependence. God has been introducing me to the “odd couple” I wrote about in last Sunday’s blog; weakness and prayer. I can be satisfied with my weakness because “not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate [me] from God’s love for [me] in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
I began this exploration of weakness some time ago by asking God to protect my mind and my heart. Now that’s become the basis of most of my prayers for anyone else. Please remember even the “other” faithful disciples of Jesus had to experience the conversion of their own weakness into faith too. They were so confident of their faith in the best of times but in the crisis moments their reactions were painfully different. James, Thomas and Peter are a few of those “others” who come to mind. God has answered my prayers by revealing His purpose for my faith is to build His strength into my weakness through His Word for me and my words to Him.
“Something more?” There have been several of them lately. I knew when I read this quote before I landed at this part of Romans 8, it was one of them: “When the longing of one’s heart is inked into words and offered as a prayer, that’s when it springs to life in God’s mind.a” That seems very different from the more familiar “thy will be done.” This IS God’s will; that our hearts are converted by our words to, and our need for, Him. It really has felt like “something more than a victory.” It has felt like a gift. After all, my salvation is God’s victory, not mine. I just cling to the hope that by recognizing the conversion of my own weakness into need and dependence on Christ, I might be able to make Him look good.
“Because of Christ who loves us” there’s a second “something “more than a victory!” This week I read that in the final year of Henri Nouwen’s 40+ years of determined faithfulness, he was still dealing with the realities of his own flaws. It wasn’t victory he wrote about in those last months, but of “the constant need of conversion that we have in life. Conversion from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.” and “What an enormous, important spiritual journey it is when we discover that where our healing begins is where joy is rooted.“ ‘The conversion [Nouwen] maps is from self-rejection to self-acceptance, from competition to compassion, from productivity to fruitfulness. b’ “
There is yet another “something more” that came my way. This article from Desiring God by Jon Bloom about weakness and this quote. “Someday, when our Master returns, he will ask us to give an account of the talents he’s entrusted to us. Some of those talents will be our weaknesses. We don’t want to tell him we buried any of them.”
Our weakness is not converted to strength because of our determination. Our weakness is converted to strength knowing it is Jesus who could calm the stormy sea with a word. Our weakness is converted to strength by Jesus who revealed his wounds to heal us and it’s Jesus ‘s strength that converts our weaknesses into “something more!”
a From the novel, Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
b Excerpted from the book Community compiled posthumously from Henri Nouwen’s writings.