9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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. 2 Cor 12:9-10 NIV
Every time a new group is on their way, I have a level of excitement that builds like a player getting ready for his next game. When I know the groups have landed in PAP airport and are on their way to the Mole, things change around here. Just like a stadium making sure all the programs are stacked, the field is marked, and the hotdogs are grilling-we are preparing for a really big game. I am always amazed at the teams that come to meet us. They may have different names and quirky little characteristics but there are a couple qualities that ring true with every team.
First of all, just like seeing a team standing on the sidelines, there are players that crowd the coach wanting to be put in the game. Sometimes it is quite comical to meet these folks. You really don’t have to go looking for them; they are the ones whose hands pop up every time you mention anything that needs to be done. It reminds me of little kids saying “Pick me, pick me…o o o o o pick me!” These missionaries are a lot like the disciple Peter—they would probably rush into the middle of a voodoo service with fried chicken if I asked them to!
And then there are other players who stand several yards away from the coach—they are almost afraid to go into the game. These are the youth and adults who are happy to wear the mission t-shirt but are so afraid of making a mistake that they are gripped with fear when we just ask them to give out a bag of rice. My heart goes out to these Christians. I know it took so much courage for them to step out of their comfort zone and serve the Lord in such a nasty dark place. As I have watched many groups come and go, both of these groups have one major thing in common. They do love their God. They are not here under any false pretenses. Both groups knew they were going to do ministry and were ready for the challenge when their feet was firmly planted on American soil.
Unfortunately, as game time approaches one group soars and the other group panics. Have you ever been there? Perhaps you are experiencing it right now. Your heart has been moved by the news that a family member is going through divorce and you really want to help them but when you are face to face—you have no words and you wonder if whatever you do say will really help anyway. Or you may be one of those folks who just happen to overhear a mother trying to negotiate a better price for the meds for her baby and immediately you step up and say, “Let me take care of this for you.” I am always moved when I see a veteran or a soldier in uniform when I am in the States. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everything they have done to protect my right to be me. Yet, seldom do I actually confront them personally and say, “Thank you.” However, if you were ever out with my mother, she actually will stop whatever she is doing to go out of her way to say, “Thank you for serving.”
I say all of this as a challenge to myself and others as we become children of light in this world. As I see it there are two motivations that can take over when we are in a position of serving God. The first is our giftedness. When we are serving and doing something God has supernaturally gifted us with—we experience an incredible sense of blessing and even pride. Most of the time when I am serving through my gifts of administration I am completely fulfilled. I am doing what I love to do with an intensity that is ordained. Very few things stump me—I could organize 200 Haitian preschoolers going to the potty if God called me to it! However, if you asked me to sit down with one of those preschoolers and teach them how to do a lace-up card, I have met my match! I’m not gifted as a preschool teacher.
In the same way, I have found that there are other times when God calls me to do something that is not even close to being in my gifted area. Actually, living in the mole has made it more apparent that there are many times that God has me doing things completely out of my comfort zone. The need becomes the call…at those times, serving the Lord is not necessarily the thrill of a lifetime. In fact, it is one giant gulp and step of faith at a time. Honestly, every time I go to the fishing villages, I am serving this way. I am not spiritually gifted to do this! Yet the need is the call, if I don’t go—who will?
I think back to the writings of Paul in the 12th chapter of 2nd Corinthians. He looked at his weakness as a blessed handicap keeping him in constant contact with his limitations. I guess for myself, I must begin to look at serving outside my giftedness as the same. By serving through weakness, the Lord actually gives me strength. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not a physical strength as it often leaves me in a mangled heap of nausea. But spiritually, every time I achieve one more boat ride—my Spirit soars.
As you serve where you are my prayer for you is 2 Cor 12:9-10—that you may have Christ’s power rest upon you! May you never cower but boldly say to the Lord “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!”
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Cor 12:9-10 THE MESSAGE