Saturday, August 5, 2017

When You Don't Feel Like You're Enough

2 Chronicles 13:18:  “… and the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord …”

            The men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord!

            Oh, how I needed to hear that this morning!  Oh, how I needed to be reminded that my efforts don’t matter nearly as much as my willingness to rely on the Lord!

            In this Bible passage, Abijah (king of Judah) had gone into battle against Jeroboam (king of Israel and an adversary of Solomon, Abijah’s grandfather).  Abijah had 400,000 men and Jeroboam had 800,000 men.  It seemed pretty hopeless.  And to make matters worse, while Abijah was giving a speech to Jeroboam at the battle line about how Jeroboam has forsaken the Lord and how Judah has not, Jeroboam’s men snuck around the back to hem in Abijah’s troops from both sides.

            When Abijah’s men realized that they were trapped, what was the first thing they did?

            Did they draw up a battle plan?  Did they start attacking indiscriminately?  Did they run away, throw up the white flag, or curl up in a ball and start crying?  Did they panic?

            1 Chronicles 13:14:  “Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear.  Then they cried out to the Lord.”

            They cried out to the Lord … And the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord!

            I have been dealing with anxiety for a long time now over many things.  I fear that none of my best efforts will be good enough … that I won’t accomplish anything worthwhile … that I will let my kids down … that I will let the Lord down … that I will fail miserably at the jobs He has given me. 

            I wear this weight on my shoulders every day.  I feel the anxiety it creates the moment I wake up.  I feel it every time I notice all the things I can’t accomplish.  I feel it every time I compare the little that I am doing to the [perceived] much that others are doing.  I feel it every time I doubt that I am going to be enough.  And it makes me want to cry and panic and give up, all at the same time.

            But you know what?

            God doesn’t ask us to be enough. 

            Abijah’s success didn’t rest on the size of his troops, for he had half as many men as his enemy.  It didn’t rest on his military strategies, for he had no great plans for dealing with the unexpected front-and-rear attack.  It didn’t rest on his bravery, for his men were afraid enough to cry out.  Nor did it rest on his morality or “religiousness” as though he could “earn” victory by being such a “good Christian,” for although Judah still technically served the Lord through the priestly rituals, in 1 Kings 15:3 we read that Abijah “… committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his god…”

            No!  Abijah’s success depended on one thing …

            He cried out to the Lord! 

            The Lord gave him victory not because of anything related to Abijah’s skills or the size of his troops or the way he previously lived [or didn’t live] his faith.  The Lord gave him victory simply because he relied on the Him.  Abijah humbly threw himself upon the Lord and let the Lord fight for him. 

            He didn’t know how the Lord would help.  Maybe he didn’t even know for sure that the Lord would help him in the way he wanted. 

            But he knew enough to know when he wasn’t enough … and he cried out to the Lord.

            And because of his willingness to do this, the Lord did the impossible; He caused the enemy to flee and He helped Abijah destroy 500,000 of them.  And Jeroboam never regained power during Abijah’s reign.

            What am I relying on to help me accomplish the things I think I need to accomplish?  To help me be “enough” for the jobs I have, for raising my children, for being the person I believe I should be?

            Sadly, most of my anxiety comes because I am trying to be enough in and of myself.  Because I feel like I should always know the right thing to do, that I should have a perfect plan, that I should have all my ducks in a row and all these nice, little boxes that I can check off as I go.

            But that’s not life.  Life is messy and unpredictable and it has twists and turns and ups and downs.  And the older I get, the more overwhelmed I get.  And the more weak and unsure and scared I feel.  And the less confidence I have in myself to know what to do, to succeed, to make things work out right.

            But honestly … I think that’s right where we need to be. 

            We need to learn that we are not enough.

            Because that’s when God can step in and take over.

            If we operate according to the belief that we are enough and that we can make it happen in our own wisdom and strength and that we can carry all the burdens by ourselves … then we don’t lean on the Lord like we should.  We don’t listen to Him or wait for Him or follow Him or trust Him … because we are too busy listening to our own self-glorifying fantasies and running ahead of Him in our own wisdom and trying to lead Him down the path we want to take and trusting in ourselves to make it all happen, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.

            But the way to true success is to know when we cannot do it on our own anymore and when we are weak and beaten down and not enough … and to cry out to the Lord, relying on Him to fight for us, to be enough for us, and to make something good out of our shortcomings and weaknesses.

            We don’t have to be enough because He is!  And I thank Him for the reminder that as long as I am leaning fully on Him and relying on Him, He can make something beautiful out of the ugly.  He can turn the messes into successes.  He is enough for any concern I have! 

            Do I trust Him enough to let Him carry my burdens?    

            Or do I believe that I can do better?    

                                           - Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)  


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