Sharing Your Strength – Part 2

Yesterday  I told you about the Shared Strength of Salem to help Charis get down the hill sledding (see link). It is a beautiful story. And I explained how the beauty of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit rang out loud and clear in the picture of the girls working together.

But while my family was having a fun snow adventure, I was away on a planning retreat. And instead of sliding down snow covered hills, I sat in a Walmart parking lot with a dead battery.  Did I mention that is was freezing?  Or that I had come out on a “quick errand” and had on sandals in 23 degree weather?

While I was sitting in my car, I asked the Lord why this was happening when we were trying to accomplish so much. “This is such a huge distraction,” I told my friend Lyschel, who was with me.  But then a completely gracious guy from Walmart came to help, and I started seeing a different picture.

When you turned the key all the lights came on and even the radio. But no engine starting.

(How many of us are like that? Lights on but no ability to move.)

So he hooked up a battery pack. No go. Not enough power. Then he got his pickup truck and we hooked up jumper cables to his running vehicle. As I saw him attach red to red, back to black, I thought about how he was giving his power to me. (See it coming?) He was sharing his strength with me. But although we still had lights on, there was not enough juice to turn the engine over. Go figure.

(Do you ever think you are doing all the right things, but still not getting the results you want or in this case, desperately need?)

Despite the God word picture, I was beginning to get really frustrated, so I called on the big guns. I called Chuck.  His instructions were crazy. “You two walk to the nearest restaurant and I will take it from here,” he said.

“Don’t you need me to stay with the jeep? Or help  you?” I asked.

“No, stay on track. Don’t get distracted, stay on course with your meeting and your plans. I will get it fixed.” He was so my hero.

Without belaboring the point, here is the rest of the story.  We didn’t need a new a battery. The battery had to be taken out and charged for 30 minutes and then replaced. It started the engine like a charm.  In the meantime, we finished a very productive meeting and were back on the road to our retreat center. Not our original plan, but a good result nonetheless.

Here are my takeaways from this funny little God exercise. As Christians, we don’t need a new hearts. We need time to stop and recharge. Sometimes we have to tap into strength outside ourselves, but the strength has to be great enough to get the job done. You may need a book, a friend, or a personal retreat. But when you are really dead, it takes a much greater power to replenish your needs. That would be dedicated time with The Power Source. Almighty is His name.

One of the hardest lessons was asking for help. Sometimes you have to let someone else do the fixing. You carry on with what you have been told, even if it is outside your plan. You keep going but you trust that God is working, even when your hands aren’t on it.  “Nothing thwarts the plans of God,” declared Job. God is our ever present help in time of need.

Just now Itunes is playing a song by Chris Tomlin:

All of You
is more than enough for
all of me
for every thirst and
every need
You satisfy me
with your love
and all I have in you
is more than enough

Sharing Your Strength – Part 1

Imagine this.  A real honest to goodness snow day  in Knoxville.  (Granted our snow days consist of 2 inches or less…but the ground WAS white.) Now imagine two little girls with Dad, a sled and a big hill.  God is so crazy in how He shows up and shows off.

Chuck had often told the girls that when there was enough snow, he would take them to Lakeshore Park and slide down the big hills. With me out of town, it was the perfect day. So off they went, bundled and mittened, sled in hand. Salem went flying down the hill first, screaming. Chuck went flying too. Little Charis would hop on and ride with one of them and even though it was freezing they had a blast. But Charis just couldn’t bring herself to go solo.

“Charis, do want to go on your own?” Chuck asked.

“Yes,” she said almost paralyzed, as she looked down the hill, with sled string tight in her hand. Chuck could tell it took everything in her to even consider it this notion.

“I believe in you, baby. You can do it. You’ll be fine. Worst case is, you’ll wipe out, and it will just be like rolling over in the snow.  Now, go on.” Dad was trying to build, encourage, or whatever it would take to motivate her to action. It didn’t connect for Charis. She walked to the sled. Put a foot out to get on, pulled it back. Thought about it, moved toward it again, and walked away. The whole time Chuck was showering, “You’ll be fine, you can do it, go for it,” etc.

It was high hill. And it was a long way for a little girl. Chuck encouraged and coached her. But no go. Finally time was running out, she had to either jump on alone or go home. Charis really wanted to go on her own, and both Salem and Chuck wanted that for her too. Still no go. Here is where the story turns.

Big sister Salem says, “Hey Charis, how about you sled and I’ll run down the hill beside you?  I’ll be right there with you.”

That did it. Charis jumped on. Off they went, Charis screaming all the way down the hill, part glee, part terrified, and Salem running full bore to stay with her. It was beautiful.

In the car, later, Chuck said to the girls, “Salem, what you did was so amazing. You shared your strength, so she could do it. Charis, you totally did it on your own, and that was awesome, but Salem shared her strength so you could see that you were strong, that you could do it.”

When we all reunited and Chuck told me this great story, it rumbled way down in my heart. Shared strength.

And I realized this is a great picture of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a picture of the way “They” lovingly interact and share Their strength with us.  He is our loving Father, coaching and encouraging us,  believing we can do more than we see.

But He is also the Son who knows our weakness and runs along side us in the journey,  even the big hills. His presence gives us the example, even though running down a hill is not nearly as fun as sledding. Even though carrying a cross is not nearly as fun as the resurrected life…

But then, the Holy Spirit is the one getting us in the sled. He is the one completing the instruction of the Father and example of the Son in us. He gives courage in action as we are going. Beautiful. Simply beautiful He is.

Thank you Lord for Your shared strength. Help us to follow Your example, and run down the big hills with others. Amen.