The Strong, The Tempted and the Weak

in union with the Lamb
from condemnation free
the saints from everlasting were
and shall forever bein covenant of old
the sons of God they were
the feeblest lamb in Jesus’ fold
was blessed in Jesus thereit’s bonds shall never break
though earth’s old columns bow
the strong, the tempted, & the weak
are one in Jesus now

when storms or tempests rise
or sins your peace assail
your hope in Jesus never dies
’tis cast within the veil

The lesson learned goes something like this: 

Weakness shows you your limitations.  It shows you where you end and where God begins.  It reminds you that you’re being judged by a law you cannot possibly keep.  It reminds you of your self-righteousness, your justifications, your reasonings that you are far better and far more worthy and way more important on this planet than you actually are.  How far your projected image often radically differs from your internal reality!  Weakness is the beginning of strength applied most worthily.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Cor. 12:10 (ESV)

When we worship our strength by believing it to be innate instead of on loan, we take the first steps towards the pride that leads to a fall.  We believe ourselves to be stronger, deeper, more bulletproof than we truly are.  The result is that our hope lies in our own strength instead of Christ.

Weakness does not always equal sin; there are times weakness is not truly weakness, but mere inability.  Is it weakness not to be able to follow through on a planned sin?  I kept thinking today of how long it took me to step into the world of sexual depravity I lived in for so long.  Stepping into the bathhouse for the first time wasn’t a sign of strength or overcoming, even though I thought it took great courage at the time.  To be pretentious here and quote Oscar Wilde: “Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to.”  No, there are times that in order to turn the other direction from the sin our hearts long for, we are hobbled and weakened; either by God’s loving hand or by our own weakness to follow through on things we long for so sinfully.  I look at my own disability and even though the pain sometimes still seems so fresh and horrible, I can safely say that if the surgery had gone flawlessly and I was skinnier and able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, I would not be following God right now.  Maybe God would have had another plan for me to bring me closer to Him.  Maybe it would have been worse than the one He allowed to happen.  No, no maybe.  I’m sure it would have been.

I love that hymn above because it speaks to a core truth: that sometimes we are all strong, tempted, weak — sometimes all at the same time.  It wasn’t until I dared to believe that understanding my weakness, then understanding from Whom my borrowed strength flows, that I finally began to understand how a man of God becomes and remains strong.  I am eternally grateful that I will not make Heaven’s doorway because of my own striving, my own pitiful, laughable strength.  But Him, the one I most admire, the One whose strength allows me to mark my days with any sense of strength and courage whatsoever, is my hope.  In His sacrifice, the ultimate sign of masculinity and strength, I have borrowed strength and grace to finish the race.

I mention all of this because this is what I had to remind myself of a couple of weeks ago.  It had been a long and particularly brutal week.  I had not slept well at all due to some misunderstanding that completely came out of left field.  Down, defeated, and completely lost in self-pity I gave up for approximately 60 seconds.  Okay, I said.  That’s it.  If I lose this, this last thing that means so much to me, then I am trapped, destroyed, with no way out, the rest of my life a waste of oxygen.  So, I said, I’m going to go out and give up and sleep with—

That’s all it took.  Entertaining the possibility of falling into that sin for a fraction of a second.  Not just idle wish-fulfilling lust.  Planning.  Real planning.

You know those long, curved daggers that you see in the old movies about the Middle East?  You stab your enemy in the gut, then pull up and open up his torso, effectively eviscerating him.  That’s what the feeling in my chest felt like.  I couldn’t breathe.  I wondered if I was having the beginning of a heart attack.  (Ever the drama queen.)  I went into my bedroom and cried, shaking.  What a moron I am.  Instead of leaning on the Everlasting Rock himself, I gave up.  I believed the lie that I could find solace and comfort in the life that was unfulfilling and deadly; a lifestyle marked by it’s lack of true connection and intimacy.  The temptation to finally give up did not last long; mere seconds.  I thank the Holy Spirit for confirming in my heart and soul that I still property of Jesus, that I have been bought and paid for, and that all of this will come together for good because I love Him.  I had begun to believe in my own strength, my own plans, and my own will.  God needed to take me by the hand and bring me to the edge of losing before I could understand what winning truly meant.  I am thankful my stupidity did not take me down even further.


~ by WriterRand on July 6, 2007.

One Response to “The Strong, The Tempted and the Weak”

  1. God knows that sometimes ONLY painful circumstances can keep us close to Him. I just spent time with a brother tonight whose life was totally messed up by drugs and alcohol. When he reached a very low point, God saved him. I don’t think he would be living as a Christian today if he had an easy life. He does not struggle with SSA, but he told me that it takes more courage for me to fight SSA than for him to fight the temptation for drugs.

    I thank God for you. There is such a courage and faithfulness He has given you, it makes me want to be more courageous and faithful myself.

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