Tonight as I walked the dogs, I proceeded down a street I walk every day. As I continued forward, I heard the sound of a drill sergeant from what I imagined. I couldn’t make out the words because it was in the distance, but I envisioned the scenes I had seen again and again in movies. When I got closer, I noticed the all-familiar face of a soldier I spoke to in passing many times.
As this soldier sat on his porch swing, he looked forward, staring at the flags before him—the American flag and the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”). He shouted orders as he stared until he saw the dogs and I approaching. Then he apologized and confided that he got papers today—a red one and a white one. These papers are not what you are probably thinking; they were divorce papers. We spoke for a bit. He was somewhat incoherent. My dog was getting antsy due to an approaching dog so I told him to “hang in there” and continued walking. He returned to his shouting. I felt great sadness.
I ended up crossing the street and passing by again. We again spoke briefly. I told him to “take care.” I started praying for him as I journeyed onward. A short distance ahead were police—two police officers speaking with a neighbor. In little time they made their way up to this man. I continued to pray as sorrow began to weigh me down. Why did I not stay longer to speak with him? Why did I not pray with him? So tonight I pray, I pray for this man who knew I didn’t understand. He said it numerous times during his incoherent mumbling. But I know a God Who understands. He understands even the groans when we cannot speak. He understands all the hurt, all the pain, all the temptations, all the struggles. He understands it all. Sometimes I cannot understand but I’m thankful He always does. Sometimes I cannot find the right words, but He always has a Perfect Word. And I’m thankful that the weight I felt from the burden of sorrow I can give to Him and rest in His promises.
Please pray for this soldier. I don’t know his name. But God does.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 [MSG]
There will always be some things that we are very good at and some things that are not very easy to undertake. We have weaknesses. Some of us are uncoordinated. Some of us do not do well speaking in front of crowds. Some of us are not good with math. We all have something we can consider as a weakness, something that isn’t our strong suit.
When Moses was commanded to go speak to Pharaoh and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he was not so eager to go right away. He made excuse after excuse, and one of those excuses related to his problem with speech. Eventually his brother Aaron is mentioned to assist and off Moses went after a bit of dragging of the feet.
But what do we read in Acts? Luke wrote that Moses “was powerful in speech and action.” He wasn’t so weak after all. Why? When we are weak, the strength of Christ is able to step in because of our humility to recognize we cannot do it alone. Moses was powerful in words and deeds because it was through God’s power that he spoke, and he followed through on those words. He acted. If it wasn’t for the action, the words wouldn’t have meant so much. If it wasn’t for God, he wouldn’t have been able to speak at all.
“Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” – Acts 7:22 [NIV]
In Joshua 11, there are two phrases that show us a great example of the power of God through His people. The Northern Armies combine together and form a “vast horde.” Think of that phrase, “vast horde.” It can be understood nicely when you consider “they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore.” Now that is VAST. I would be frightened. It had to have been overwhelming. The people were great in number. They had joined together to combat the Israelites.
As we continue reading, we read that all of these people were “completely destroyed.” The phrase was “every living thing.” There was a “vast horde” but the people that were as numerous as the sand at the shore now were gone. Something that seemed impossible was very possible through God. Something that was frightening became something praiseworthy.
Paul mentioned that we could boast in our weaknesses because Christ’s power could work best. You might be facing a “vast horde.” You might consider it to be impossible. Just remember that with God, that vast horde can be completely destroyed. Don’t look at things through your power. Look to Christ. Our God can do the impossible.
“All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore. The Israelites completely destroyed every living thing in the city, leaving no survivors. Not a single person was spared. And then Joshua burned the city.” – Joshua 11:4, 11 [NLT]
There is a verse in Genesis that truly shows us something that we so often neglect. Genesis 41:16 is Joseph’s response to Pharaoh’s request for assistance. He said, “I cannot do it” (NIV) or “it is beyond my power to do this” (NLT). The Message translates this as “not I, but God.” No matter the translation, Joseph clearly tells Pharaoh that it is beyond his power, but that God can do it.
- “God will”
- “God can”
- “God shall”
The Bible says that what is impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:28). Here we see Joseph declaring this to Pharaoh. A lot of people will agree with the “God will,” “God can,” and even “God shall.” There are many levels of faith, but people do tend to agree with these statements many times. The “not I” part is the hardest part. We don’t like to admit we are powerless. We don’t like to admit we cannot do something. We don’t like to say that we are weak. This is a “me, myself, and I” world. Why say, “Not I”? We have the technology, the resources, and the abilities. We like to be in control.
Today I challenge you to look at your life and examine your weaknesses. Can you admit to yourself that you have these weaknesses? Can you say, “Not I, but God”? Paul tells the Corinthians that he boasts in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:9). I pray that you, too, may boast in your weaknesses and say, “Not I, but God.”