Earlier in my life I experienced an event no woman should ever have to go through. I was assaulted by a man who had stalked me for several months. It was an incredibly traumatizing time, and this event, though it could have been much worse, was overwhelming. The man was eventually caught, but plead not guilty, which meant we had to go to court.
The very last place this girl wanted to be.
The thought of going into court and facing this man was more than I could bear. It was everything I could do to look at the date on the calendar, to visualize being in the courtroom, attorneys, the judge…it was too much to wrap my mind around. It began to wreak havoc on me, so much so that I got to the point where I had to just shut that part of my brain off. Whenever I would think about it, I had to compartmentalize it, shove it down into a small little box and put it as far back into my mind as possible. It was the only way I could cope.
One evening though, God took me somewhere that blew the lid off that box.
He brought me to 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”
This completely rocked my guarded heart, because it felt like what He was saying to me was this:
“Julie, I want you to bring out that box and open it up. I don’t want you to lock it away, I don’t want you to be paralyzed by it. I want you to open it up…and release it to me. I want you to exchange your fear… with My grace. You can walk this path, with Me. You do not need to be afraid, because I am. I am with you. You are weak, but that is the best place to be, because in the knowledge of that you then allow My power to fully reign in your life. In your admission of weakness, you will experience a renewing and a confidence of knowing that I instead will take on this burden. I will walk for you, I will breathe for you, I will answer for you. In your weakness, stand. Because that’s where My power is at its best.”
God’s grace was to be my sufficiency. My covering. My strength.
Could it be true? Was His grace really enough? Ultimately, I had to decide if I believed that.
Have you ever been there? Found yourself having to decide if God’s grace was really enough?
We are already into Week 5 of our Summer to Soak. This time we are looking at a very familiar verse, one that many of us can or have quoted, or at least sung about.
Our Verse For Week Five
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
These ancient words written by Paul to the church in Corinth are just as poignant to us today. Paul had a “thorn in his flesh”, and he had petitioned God to remove it. God said no, Paul, my grace is all you need.
A difficult response to hear, I’m guessing. But what does it really mean? This week we will look at each phrase and allow its Truth to soak into our lives.
It’s what sets apart Christianity from every other religion. Grace is the very essence of God, and it says that His favor and forgiveness are free, and fully available to me. His grace is ridiculous, undeserved and overwhelming. In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace (a must read), Phillip Yancey says this:
Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional. Grace baffles us because it goes against the intuition everyone has that, in the face of injustice, some price must be paid. Grace costs nothing for the recipients and everything for the giver. Grace is not a grandfatherly display of “niceness,” for it cost the exorbitant price of Calvary. Grace is free only because the giver himself has borne the cost.
Just this one word must bring about the deepest of gratitude…grace.
His grace is sufficient.
It is enough.
Is Jesus enough?
Is what Jesus has to offer you really enough? Or would you say that Jesus is good, but if only you had a little more _____________.
Is Jesus enough?
For My power…
There is that word again: power. If you were with us in Week 3 we talked extensively about this word “power”, this same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20). Yes, that’s the same power Paul is referring to here.
Is made perfect in weakness.
This word “perfect” here means finished, completed and is the same word spoken by Jesus as He hung on the cross, “It is finished”. Complete. In my weakness, His power has the opportunity to be fully realized. Not in my strength, in my weakness. Incredible. Ridiculous, undeserved, overwhelming.
So where are you on this?
What are the circumstances you find yourself in? If you’re like most, your response to these circumstances probably fall into one of two camps.
One camp is Fear, and its mantra is “What in the world am I going to do?!” Maybe you,
- Are overwhelmed by a situation that is bigger than you can comprehend.
- Are working frantically to try to fix a problem.
- Have an issue that you just can’t deal with, so you’ve shoved into a back closet in your mind.
The other camp is Self-Sufficiency, and its mantra is “I’ve got this!”. Bring it, cuz I’m gonna make this happen. We live in a culture that says we can do it all and allows us access to EVERYTHING. Walk into any Super Target and, as my daughter said last week, ” we can find anything we need!” Got a problem? There’s a grocer, hardware store, restaurant, or Starbucks that can fix that!
Which camp do you find yourself in these days?
Don’t we long to be in the camp of Grace? That place where the heart surrenders, where the breathing intentionally slows in the midst of the unexpected or the overwhelmed and whispers…yes, Jesus, You are enough.
How Can I Soak In This Verse?
1. Write the verse out and look intently at every single word. Breathe in these words, think about their meaning slowly and intentionally.
2. Ask yourself some honest questions:
- What camp am I in, the camp of fear or self-sufficiency?
- What tasks am I attempting to do in my own strength?
- Is there an area of my life that I’ve shoved to the back of my mind?
- What seems overwhelming right now?
3. Spend some time in prayer this week, examining this with the Lord, pressing into Him for His grace in each area.
4. Watch for opportunities to confess and watch. Confess that His grace is all you need, then watch how He moves in power in ways that are more than you could ask or imagine.
5. Spend some additional time in these scriptures: Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, Ephesians 3:20
Our amazing God, He draws us with His kindness, with His grace. This same grace was what found me, in the middle of my fear and all my coping mechanisms and defenses as I anticipated going to court. This grace became my mantra as He filled me with more strength and power than I ever could have imagined. He changed me from the inside out and gave me unexplained confidence that He was with me, every step of the way.
The time had come, and it was the day before we were scheduled to go into court. Late in the afternoon, I received a phone call. It was my attorney on the other line, I figured she was calling to give me some last minute information about the proceedings. Instead, she had called to tell me that my perpetrator had suddenly and unexpectedly changed his plea from not guilty to guilty, and because of this, everything had changed: I would not have to go to court. At all.
Beyond all that I could ask or imagine? You could have toppled me with a feather as I hung up the phone, so completely humbled by the knowledge that it was God alone who did that.
His grace is all we need, for His power is perfected in the very weaknesses of our lives.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. v.10
How is God moving in your life?
There is something powerful when we share our story – it brings encouragement and strengthening to so many others. Feel free to leave a comment below.