At the End of Myself

Woman ropeYesterday two friends told me, a few hours apart from each other, that they are at the end of themselves.  They are at the end of their ropes in their own particular circumstances.

I greatly admire and appreciate these friends.  If you knew either of these Christian women, you would say they have it all together.  They are strong, beautiful, and smart, and each have a super sense of humor.  Each of them would also be the first to tell you of her weaknesses.

Referring to parenting her son, one humbly said, “I am completely inadequate.”

About her finances and physical exhaustion, the other quietly cried, “I’m at the end of myself.”

These friends, who are truly Christ-followers, are being squeezed, and squeezed hard.  Their faith is being tested to a greater degree than they ever before imagined.

They could run away from their problems and ignore them.  They could put their “smarts” to work and manipulate solutions to their problems.  But, these women have tried these things before, and they are dead ends.

All they ask for now is God’s adequacy.

In II Corinthians 3:5 it says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”  The ability to serve God does not come from our own strength or wisdom.  Our adequacy to do what He has called us to is not found in ourselves.

Our adequacy is FROM GOD.  We must depend upon Him.  What a Christian cliche!  Yes it is, so I’d like to break it down for a moment.  (Sometimes we make the Christian life way too complicated!)  What does it mean to “depend upon God” and find our adequacy in Him?

  1.  Know that God is at work in you.  If you are a born-again Christian, take comfort and confidence in knowing that He has given you a new heart to love and obey Him.  He has given you His Holy Spirit to lead you in truth and righteousness.  He has given you all you need in Christ to walk this path.
  2. Pray for God’s gracious help.  Pour out your concerns to Him.  Bring your requests before the Lord for your circumstances and for what’s going on inside of you.  He delights in answering your prayers and caring for you.
  3. Obey God’s Word.  Instead of leaning on your own understanding and coming up with your own solutions to your problems, do it God’s way.  Study the Scriptures to see how God would have you respond to Him, others, and your circumstances.  You want to see a woman who depends upon God and His adequacy in her life?  Then you will see a woman who obeys God’s Word no matter what.

When we are at the end of ourselves, we as Christians are at a place of significant spiritual growth.  Are you at the end of yourself?  How fortunate you really are.

When Sparrows Fall

sparrow back in handThis past week one of my closest friends sent me a link to a sermon from Matthew 10:28-31, “When Sparrows Fall,” given several months ago by her pastor, Britt Merrick, at Reality Church in Carpenteria, California.  I listened to it alone one night, and then I shared it with my husband a couple days later.  It was such a needed and powerful encouragement to both of us that I want to share it with you, too.

After a leave of absence from the pulpit for ten months, Pastor Merrick shares with his congregation the lessons he learned as his eight-year-old daughter, Daisy, continued to battle cancer.  During his sabbatical from the ministry, Merrick learned that in his darkest hours, the question to ask was not “Why?”, but rather “Who?”  Speaking from experience, but even more importantly speaking from the Word of God, he genuinely and passionately offers the hope and encouragement that is only found in the presence of our heavenly Father. 

Are you in a dark hour?  Are your trials (in the family, work, ministry, or your own heart) so heavy and heartbreaking that you cannot seem to find your way? Remember what Jesus said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Please listen . . . and find Rest for your weary soul.

When God’s Answer is “No”

Three young men stood together before a king.  They had not been summoned to receive honors for mighty acts of valor.  They had not been summoned to receive praise for faithful service to the kingdom.  Rather, they had been called before the king to receive sentences of death.  The three men had no hope of escape, unless the king were to mercifully give them a second chance—or so the king thought.

The men had disobeyed the king, and rightfully so.  The arrogant monarch had decreed that all his subjects were to bow down to worship a golden statue that bore his image.  When the court musicians played, the people were commanded to kneel.  It was an awe-inspiring sight to see the rippling effect of hundreds, if not thousands, of  men and women falling to their knees and bowing their faces to the ground.  As the king looked over the humbled masses, pride filled his chest, and he lifted his chin a little higher.

Suddenly, his moment of glory was spoiled.  In the distance, were there really three men standing upright—tall, resolute, and steadfast?

Yes, there were.  Enraged, the king demanded that the three men be arrested.  As they were brought before him, the king was surprised to recognize them as three of his most trusted and loyal servants.  “What?  Why hadn’t they bowed down?  Didn’t they understand what I can do to them?” he wondered.  “Surely, they can be brought to their senses!”

Willing to give these men a second chance, the king declared, “Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound . . . of music, fall down and worship the image that I have made.  But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire, and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)

At this point, the three men, named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, responded to the king with what I have personally found to be one of the most inspiring and strengthening declarations of God’s people in Scripture.  They replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

“Even if He does not . . . “  I love that.  I love the resolve, steadfastness, and faith.  I love the confidence, conviction, and complete abandon to the will of God.  I love the looking at opposition in the face, and the knowing that there is Someone greater with Whom to reckon and in Whom to find refuge.  Imagine all the praying that Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-nego did that day!  They prayed expecting God to answer positively, and they were committed to serve and worship the one true and living God . . . even if His answer was “no” to their prayers for deliverance.

Years ago while in graduate school, I placed Daniel 3:16-18 on a card and taped it to my bathroom mirror.  My husband and I were praying for financial stability and a second child.  The answers were repeatedly, “No.”  The fear and discouragement were sometimes overwhelming for me.  But, the Lord used these verses to strengthen my faith in Him regardless of my circumstances.  Like the men in Daniel 3, I believed that God was able to deliver us and favorably answer our prayers.  But even if He did not, was I going to continue to trust and obey Him?

And now, here I am again with a request I have been repeatedly bringing before the Lord.  For some time, the answer has been “no.”  Maybe God’s answer is actually “wait,”  but I don’t know that for sure, do I?  For now, His answer appears to be simply “no.”

Have you received a “no” answer to a prayer?  You and I are not alone.  We find ourselves in the company of Job, a man who suffered much before God delivered Him, and for a long time he wondered where God was in his situation.  Nevertheless Job declared, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21), and “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

Is that your declaration?  I desire it to be mine.  Even when God’s answer is “no” to our prayers, by the enabling of God’s grace let us submit our desires to the Lord, praise and hope in our Savior, and be resolutely steadfast in our devotion to Him alone.