When You Don't Measure Up

Last week God had a theme going in my life.  It was one of those weeks where God decides to speak to you through various sources.  I was speaking with some parents who are in the beginning process of teaching their child how to deal with a life long illness.  They struggled to know how to give wisdom to their child who is trying to cope with life style changes that none of them truly understand.  All of this is during the time when their child should be care free and looking at a bright future.  They were feeling like they were losing the battle and it was tainting every other aspect of life.  An employee was feeling the weight of increased hours and responsibility being placed upon them.  Working at home has created new challenges for them that they just feel inadequate to handle.  Many of their normal procedures for handling problems have been hampered or eliminated due to the new work environment.   So tough when all of the rules suddenly change.  God also chose to teach me about my weaknesses this past week. Those weaknesses exposed areas of my life that were not measuring up to what they needed to be.

In every situation, these people were correct.  The tasks that they had been given were beyond their present abilities to adequately solve.  At this time, they just don’t measure up to the task.  We could spend hours doing our best to tell them that with God nothing is impossible, or that God never gives us more than we can handle, or we could sing the rubber tree song...but the truth is that they know that they are stuck and inadequately prepared to handle the situation. They are just not measuring up.  And that is ok.

The Bible speaks of this issue in tons of different ways.  Let me briefly address what God has reminded me of in the past week.  Each truth is meant to help us realize that it is ok not to measure up, but not ok to use that truth to quit.

 1)  We should not be surprised when we fail and do not measure up.  I John 3:2 states, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  We are not yet who we will be.  We are being changed.  That changing never changes our status as God’s children but allows us the freedom to realize that we are not perfected yet.  Failure and not measuring up is all part of this process.  God has a huge history of choosing inadequate people to do his kingdom work.  Think of Moses, Esther, Gideon, and Peter (just to name a few).  II Corinthians 3:18 also gives us great comfort, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  This changing and transforming into the image of Christ happens “one degree of glory to another”.  It does not happen forty degrees at a time.  It happens one degree, on click, at a time.  Need more encouragement?  Listen to what Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “’Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers’”  Simon Peter struggled.  Satan wanted to exploit that weakness and destroy Peter.  But we know Peter as a pillar of the church. Martyred for his faith.  What happened?  Jesus prayed for him.  Just as he prayed for us in John 17 and promises to be ever interceding for us today.  Because of that we can change, we are growing, and we will accomplish what he lays before us.  Moses, Esther, Gideon, and Peter were all victorious.  Not because they were presently adequate but because they persevered in faith and God made them more than adequate.

2)  I Corinthians 15:9,10 “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”  The path of change is the power of the resurrection that lives in us, by the grace of God, coupled with our hard work of trusting and being obedient.  One of the hardest things about allowing God to change us is allowing God to change us.  We always seem to know better.  We need to stop trusting our sight and live by faith.  Listen to the Word.  Trust those whom God has placed in our lives that think and act completely differently than do.  Often, they are guides to change that God gives us.  God gave Aaron to Moses to lead him to change.

3)  II Corinthians 12:9-11 “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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’”  Okay, that is just crazy talk.  How do we get to the point that we “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses?   We get there by realizing that God desires to show his power in our lives and so he always gives us more than we can handle in our lives.  He wants us, because it is one of the most important lessons we can learn, to know that we are not adequate enough, in our own strength, to handle what He brings into our lives.  These times are brought into our lives to show us His power that dwells in us.  Look at the list Paul says he is contented in.  Each of those things cause us great consternation and turmoil in our lives.  Yet, God desires for them to perfect breeding grounds for our growth in His power and strength.  His ways are certainly way different than my ways!

Change is painful.  Circumstances that we are unable to control can be very upsetting.  Growth is often not pleasant.  But they are part of the life of a Christian.  They can be glories if we learn to yield, trust, and walk in obedience.  I have not perfected these yet.  I often dream of how cool it would have been to walk around the walls of Jericho and then watch them fall.  Yet, when God asks me to walk around the walls, I argue with him about how crazy an idea that is.  I know better than infinite God.  I am just glad that He patiently points out how my way is not working out so great.  Peter’s whole personality was changed because Jesus was praying for him.  Jesus is praying for us right now.  May we learn to seek the next glory change as much as Paul did.

One last point.  These truths are why we need each other as believers.  I Corinthians 12 describes our relationships as a body.  We function best together.  We, too often, use this illustration as solely about life in ministry.  This metaphor applies to our whole lives.  We function better when we walk and live together.  It is then that the hand can do what the foot cannot.  The elbow can do what the eye cannot.  We function more fully together.  Growth and change happens in a healthier environment when it is allowed to happen in this kind of setting.  Allow others time and grace to change.  Allow others to see you change.

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