2 Kings 15:1-16:20; Acts 19:13-41; Psalm 147:1-20; Proverbs 18:4-5
When I was 16 years old, I broke completely through both bones in my left lower leg. The break was severe enough that I had to be in a cast from my hip to my toe for 3 months, followed by about 6 months of physical therapy and rehab to get my leg back to normal functioning. For anyone this would be a painful inconvenience in life, but for me it was much more than that. I had always been an athlete and sports were a huge part of my life. So much of my identity and what I understood myself to be good at revolved around using my legs for running, kicking, jumping, etc. Who was I going to be if I couldn’t be an athlete?
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Ps. 147:10-11).
This is the verse my mom gave to me during those first few days of my injury. I pinned it up on my dresser where I would see it every day to be reminded from where my true identity and worth comes.
While athletics are not nearly as much a part of my life now, I still struggle with wanting to use my strength and the works of my legs and hands to bring the Lord “pleasure.” I strive to do things for him and his name through my works and deeds. While this is not bad, there can again come the temptation to find my identity in what I do. In my zeal to please the Lord, great harm can be done by trying to do it in my own strength, apart from him.
We see an example of this over-eagerness in our Acts 19 reading today. The “itinerant Jewish exorcists” who “undertook to invoke the name of the Lord over those who had evil spirits” (Acts 19:13-14), acted on their own strength and will. And they were in for quite a surprise when the man wasn’t freed from those evil spirits, but rather “leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded” (vs. 15-16). These Jewish exorcists were trying to do something in the name of Jesus, but not under the authority or by the true power of Jesus. Big difference and it totally backfired.
I don’t want to be hasty in my own life to make the same mistakes . There are so many needs around us, but need does not necessitate the call to act. How do we work for the Lord with all our strength, but not get caught into performance Christianity?
For me it looks a lot like listening and praying. Am I constantly going to the Lord to ask what his will is and if I should do this or do that? Am I reminding myself of the truth of his words that tell me I am valuable to him because I fear and hope in him? The Lord doesn’t need my legs or my strength, and yet I am his precious child and he delights in sharing his good will and purposes with me.
- Mary Matthias
How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.