Sitting across the table from her I wanted to do everything I could to help. She was lost and alone, struggling with depression and finished with life being so hard. My temptation, in her brokenness, was to grab the pieces and start bandaging. Surely, I could provide some stability in the rebuilding process. I most definitely could do a better job fixing this than what she was currently doing.
“I don’t know how all of this is going to play out for you, but I do know, Jesus is the answer.”
I had to say it, because if I didn’t say it, I would be tempted to be it. The answer. If I didn’t make Jesus the answer to the pain and confusion she faced, I would ultimately become the answer and I make a terrible answer. I might have moments where figuring out other people’s lives seems like something I am good at, but in the end, I lack the one thing necessary for not messing them up; Divine Lordship.
I often picture life like a Where’s Waldo, book page. As a child, I spent hours and hours with my little brother, pouring over the pages of Where’s Waldo, in search of that little man with the red-stripped shirt. So many things to search through, so much scenery to cover. Our eyes would scan the page, up and down, up and down, until the pages became so blurry we couldn’t make anything out. As the reader, holding the book we had an advantage over the character Waldo, didn’t have. We could see everything. From up high we have perspective. Perspective in the brokenness of others is a big deal and we might have an idea what our hurting friends should do next, but we cannot see the whole picture. We do not stand above the page of their lives looking down at the plan. Over and over again in Scripture, Jesus shows us, it is actually sitting down beside the broken that empowers them to move forward. Jesus never stood over someone, dictating to them what they must to do get their life together. He bent down low, came in close and put Himself right next to them in their pain. He knew in those moments, there was one who had perspective. It was His Father. Thus, Jesus’ job became to pay close attention to the broken and close attention to the Father and somehow help guide the two together.
Knowing the way is the job of Jesus and, if we let Him, He is really good at giving directions. If Jesus is the director and the leader of the broken, then our role shifts to more of a guide. Without calling the shots or leading the way, we sit beside our friends and guide them to His truth. We keep them focused, bring them back into His presence and walk with them into the places they are afraid to go themselves. Jesus has a plan for us in the brokenness of others, but His plan is not to be played out from our view point. Our weakness of sight keeps it about Jesus. It keeps all eyes on Him and all hands open to where He may be leading.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:19
In this passage, Paul goes on to talk about how he has made it a practice to boast on and even celebrate his weaknesses and persecution for when he is weak, God gets to be strong. When things happen because we are competent, capable and have life all together there is space for the Father in the glory but often times, that space has to be made. In our strengths we must humbly choose to get out of the way and allow Him to shine through. When things happen in our weakness, it becomes obvious who gets the glory. The Father has stepped in and made the impossible possible and His intervention actually speaks for itself. When Jesus leads the way, we lead others by following.
We were created to be dependent people. People depending on the love and guidance of an all knowing Father. Becoming people who depend on the direction of the ultimate Rebuilder makes us people who can help others do the same. With His help we can love, sit and walk with people to the places He leads and come away even more blessed. It’s why we have experiences like a mission trip, only to come back saying, “they blessed me more than I blessed them.” Because the Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom and we don’t receive from our strength, we receive from weakness. Letting Him be the leader, means even when we are guiding someone else, we are experiencing the presence of Jesus.
The challenge becomes learning to thrive when you don’t actually know the way. Learning to be, as Paul would put it, weak and beginning to see that as a blessing rather than a curse. People don’t need us to save them. Even when they think they do. There is only one Savior and only one capable of not failing them. Our inability to be weak leaders is on us. When I need people to see me as strong and together, it’s an identity issue. When I find success in my ability to rebuild their lives and turn them around. When I produce disciples who are ultimately dependent on me and my thoughts as much, if not more, than Jesus and His thoughts, it is a reflection of my heart and not the Father’s. The reality is, I need them to see Jesus and the posture to make that happen is on my knees beside them waiting and watching for Jesus and His guidance
At any point in time Jesus could have taken himself down off the cross. All He had to do was utter the word and yet He stayed there. Weak and surrendered, hurting but hoping. He knew His greatest moment of weakness would one day become His greatest moment of strength. He spent His dying day, pointing people to the promises and guidance of His Father.
It was the life He lived, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross,” (Philippians 2:8)
We will sometimes be tempted to stand up strong and because we are competent and capable people, but our challenge is to stand up weak so the strength of the Father shines through. Everybody wants to be strong for Him, but not everyone is willing to be weak with Him. What’s your level of weakness today? Where can you go lower and partner with His strength? How have people seen Jesus shine through your cracks?
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