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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

Month

November 2013

The Power of a Grateful Heart–Weakness Gratitude

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If I must boast, I will boast of the things that [show] my infirmity [of the things by which I am made weak and contemptible in the eyes of my opponents]. (2 Corinthians 11:30 AMP)

I participate in a Fitness Class with an over 50 age range. Many of the exercises focus on strength training, working with weights, wall sits, squats. And, in my attempts to keep my mind strong, I read and listen to books, I do cryptograms, I write, and I play Words with Friends…ok the last one may or may not keep my mind strong. I desire to be spiritually strong also and so engage in the four “W’s”, Worship, Word, Witness, and Work. Strength, being strong, being able to “leap tall buildings with a single bound”, having others comment on how strong a person one is, along with beauty, power, riches, etc., we cultivate the importance of being strong.

And, yet

I am weak. No amount of strength training, aerobics, Zumba–those three classes about killed me, no matter how many books I read, concerts I attend, memory exercises I complete, no extended Bible study or prayer time will turn back the clock or make me STRONG!

And, yet

I am thankful for all my weaknesses, for the time I collapsed into the arms of Jesus 30 plus years ago and said, “I cannot go on another minute like I am. Save me or Kill me.” “I am weak but he is strong.” (Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Lyric author unknown).

Whatever anyone sees in me as strength comes from Jesus, from the Holy Spirit living in me. As I yield myself and disentangle myself from trying to do things on my own, He lifts me to my feet, cuts off the tangled mess of overdoing, leads me to rest by his still waters and restore my soul. He shoves me or leads me, whatever it takes, into the midst of life with all its heartaches, triumphs, tragedies, trials, routines, appointments, and grumpy people, who are so like that old woman in the mirror, so I can discover the transformation of my weakness when dependent on His strength.

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NCV)

So I am

Thankful for my weakness

And

Thankful that I can help those weaker than I am by telling them about the ONE who can do more that “leap tall buildings”, the ONE who can take a weak woman like myself and fill me with his strength.

I showed you in all things that you should work as I did and help the weak. I taught you to remember the words Jesus said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35 NCV)

By the way, I am still going to fitness center, reading, praying, worshipping, etc. Because God meets me there and strengthens me. He just doesn’t let me get too caught up in my “self-help” plan and reminds me occasionally that my flesh is weak and not so young anymore. LOL image

The Power of a Grateful Heart–Poor Wayfaring Stranger Gratitude

The Lord protects the foreigners. He defends the orphans and widows, but he blocks the way of the wicked. (Psalms 146:9 NCV)

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The first sentence of this verse grabs me by the throat. I have been a stranger in a strange land both foreign and domestic. Ask anyone who has moved across the country leaving behind the familiar and they will tell you how “foreign” one can feel even within the continental United States. Moving, setting up house, working in a new environment, finding the grocery store, the cleaners, etc. and making friends requires a level of energy that only can be supplied by God. For the gregarious person some of these actions of settling in a new place go by quickly, but for someone like me, who watches to learn the lay of the land and the voice of the people before jumping in, time passes in baby steps.

The task grows exponentially when in a foreign country where the language is unfamiliar and to work, order food, count money requires a trusted translator. In Mexico for two mission trips, I relied on interpreters primarily, although after my first trip I took two semesters of Spanish at what was then Tulsa Junior College. The second trip went so much easier than the first even though my Spanish was so limited..One of my interpreters who was a native of Mexico told me that Spanish was the language of Heaven…I laughed and said that was funny, I always thought Hebrew was. Perhaps all of us, myself included, consider our first language to be the language of God.

Language opens so many doors when in another’s country. I found strangers helped me more, their attitude was different if I attempted to communicate using their language even with my poor skills. Someone once told me that the greatest compliment an expatriate can pay native citizens is to learn their tongue. Believe me this is true even in the USA. Try speaking Brooklynese in Montgomery, Alabama or vise versa. Or Oklahoma middle America speak in Kentucky where there are turns of phrase that have to be acquired.

The Lord protects the stranger in foreign places. He has protected me. He has provided a rich diversity of life found only in stepping out of my comfort zone, where I speak the language, like the food, trust the water and know what is expected of me. To be like God then, I, too, must protect and care for the strangers and foreigners in my midst. I must also be a good stranger when I am in foreign places, striving to understand the natives both tongue and customs. I must not expect everyone to be like me…that would be a disaster for sure.

Thank you , Lord. I am so grateful for your protection in all the new environments I have encountered, in all the places I have been the foreigner. Let my Gratitude lead me to care for the strangers, the non-natives, I encounter as I would like to be cared for if the situation was reversed. Remind me also that everywhere I go on this earth teaches me something about You and that the truth is “I am a poor wayfaring stranger” and “this world is not my home”. Amen

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