When you have to deal with people, the dynamics are fluid and ever changing. Being a socially awkward introvert adds stress to that and eventually someone gets fed up. Usually me. It’s also a good metric of whose strength I am operating from. Paul had strong words about that in a letter to the churches of Galatia.
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3
In My Own Strength
The context of the verse is people saying they had to work their way to salvation and forgetting they were saved by grace infiltrated the members of the church. I wasn’t trying to work my way to heaven, however, I was leaning on my own growing experience rather than God. Even after proudly quoting 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10:
“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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delighting weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I was letting busyness get between the Father and me. The problem with that is I became disconnected from Jesus as the True Vine (John 15: 1-8). I withered and one day facing the flames of opposition, I lost my temper.
I was covering overtime and made a mistake. It was like blood in the water and people talking over one another to me surrounded me.
“Enough!” I shouted. I lost my patience and pulled rank, asserting my authority. My friend Eric, who isn’t afraid to put me in check, told me to relax. Constant annoyance had been following me around lately and noticing it, he told me to put my emotions in check.
Walking outside in the stillness of the night, I looked into the night sky. It is a good way to recognize how small we really are. It also indicates Someone greater than us as Romans 1:20 points out. Little me had started relying on finite strength rather than infinite. How could I get it back?
Reconnecting With God
I decided to fast. Rather than eat, I lost track of time in the Bible. It was like coming home after a long time away. I did not have a plan or schedule; I just went here or there in the pages, seeing where it led. I got back into the habit of touching base with God before any interactions. Later in the night, I was reminded of the last time I fell away. I was gone for years.
One point last year, I remembered praying that following Jesus would be a lifetime deal and not just a seasonal one. It had been over a year and I hadn’t regressed to that point. Slowly I had grown instead. I felt a sense of joy knowing that no one could separate us permanently now.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-39
Sometimes my pride gets in the way and I decide I can do it myself. Moreover, I can…just not for long. The key is not what standards we keep. The key is to not neglect the relationship we have with Christ.