Finding Grace When We Aren’t Enough

10-14-19 When Not Enough
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
 
The day of the swim meet our hearts pumped wildly. The “giants in the land” were better prepared. They’d been swimming from the womb and my kids started in middle school. Before the race, my son noticed the coach slipping five dollars to one of his teammates, urging him to win. I couldn’t believe it. So, I promised my son five dollars if he beat that kid. Yep. One of those moms.
 
When my kids excelled, my momma’s heart burst with pride and I cried. But those moments when they were sprawled out on the floor screaming in the middle of aisle nine? Not so much.
 
The early years were marked with mayhem as I grabbed a hold of the Bible like it was a white surrender flag. Cheerios stuffed here and there, noses running everywhere, loaded diapers about to flare. I was just grateful we survived.
 
Poured out, still, there was that familiar ache burning inwardly with the thought I dared not mention—what if I’m not enough?
 
I used to say with a hint of pride that I home educated. Four kids in college and one in high school, they all love Jesus, but they have all had their slip-ups just like their momma. Now I realize that whether they succeed or not, it’s not mine to own.
 
I wasn’t enough. I never was.
 
Somehow, I got off track and thought parenting was about me. What I could produce.
 
In reality, somewhere in the middle of surviving and thriving is the space where God’s grace fills our best and makes it enough.
 
Yes, friend, you and I aren’t enough. We give it our best and God takes care of the rest.
 
Paul wasn’t afraid to admit he wasn’t enough. In fact, he boasted about it. A former persecutor of God’s people, he became their leader. Talk about regret. But when he fell short of God’s grace, he learned some secrets—humility and reliance on God were his strength, not his own abilities:
 
2 Corinthians 12:9
“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
 
Boasting about my weaknesses? I had spent so much time hiding them. But Paul reveals that we have access to power, strength and grace when we are willing to admit we aren’t enough.
 
Power
When we aren’t enough, we access Christ’s power through that admission.
 
Strength
When we aren’t enough, Christ is our strength.
 
Grace
When we aren’t enough, we remember that we never were. But God is. And He has called us by His never-ending grace all for His glory, not ours.
 
That day at the swim meet my son tied for first. The five dollars was a little competitive, perhaps, but now I know it wasn’t winning that mattered most. It was simply giving our best to God, all for His glory.

He is Enough

Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.‘  19  “Moses said to them, ‘no one is to keep any of it until morning.’  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.” 

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Enough.  What is enough?  Who determines what is enough?  I can relate to the Israelites here – our tendency is to judge them for not trusting and trying to gather more – kind of gluttonous – but I daresay we all do the same thing.  With a miracle like bread coming from the sky and God promising to give them just what they need, one could rest secure, right?  Yet with similar provision from God that might appear less miraculous, we also can resist dependence on God and place our confidence in our own ability to make enough preparations. 

Don’t get me wrong – preparation is not a bad thing.  Boy Scouts everywhere boast of the necessity of being prepared.  (o:  In fact, lack of preparation is being slack and not a good character quality at all.  But what I am talking about is more a motive of the heart than diligence.  God permitted the Israelites to gather twice the amount before the Sabbath so they could rest – and the worms did not come, nor did the stench reminiscent of gathering too much on previous days.  God had them work to gather food, but He was the source of that food.  He wanted to be their Provider in relationship with His creation. 

Perhaps it is not about trusting whether or not God will provide, but whether or not His provision will line up with what we think we need.  Trusting His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty to see our need and meet it.  When my husband was laid off in 2012, we had no savings.  Poor planning, you might say, but difficult circumstances had acquired any extra income and now we were facing an uncertain time.  Would God provide?  Oh yes!  Just days later, we would receive income sufficient for the time God had placed on my heart – 8 months with no steady income.  Random checks in the mail, a booming garden, and miraculous gifts of food that were exactly what my heart desired, proved to me that God cared about the little details.  Friends could not have known that I missed feta cheese and coconut oil, for I had only told the LORD that – but I received those two items from several friends who felt “led” to give them to me.  We had so much in the garden that I was able to bless people back who had blessed us.

I look back at that time with gratitude and joy.  Uncertain times, but a peace and faith that God granted in the midst.  The Israelites had just experienced God’s amazing deliverance by His parting of the sea.  Now God was testing their hearts – He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God.  If the trials and testings never came, we would not value the provision that God sends.  We would not be satisfied if we never knew want.  The element of trusting in God and His promises for provision is the core message.  We all do not like to be uncomfortable and our flesh can quickly accuse God when He allows in discomfort, until we recognize it is His loving hand and a heart that desires to have fellowship with us.

One last thing – when someone makes a promise to provide, one usually would want to know for certain that they have the ability to provide.  A borrower wants to be assured that the lender is able to supply his request.  To doubt the capability of the living God to provide – Creator of all and the owner of all on this planet – is lunacy.  He has more than enough and is able to do far beyond what we ever could imagine.  To doubt His goodness to provide is also insanity.  Goodness does not equal giving us everything we want.  We might not be able to go see a movie or go out to eat whenever we want, but that pales in comparison to true needs.  Don’t despise the moments of needing to lean on God more.  Recognizing our need of Him is the greatest gift of all.

Dear Lord, please grant us perspective to see Your purposes and not just the surface we are experiencing.  Thank You that You provided Your Son when we were yet Your enemies.  Thank You for Your steadfast love and care.