A Little Strength

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
— Revelation 3:8

Each time I come across this verse, I’m reminded of its usage in my favorite movie, Facing the Giants. Though it is a film centered around a football team (which is typically not my thing), the spiritual applications within the movie have impacted my life in so many ways.

Grant is a failing coach with a losing team. His house is falling apart. His car breaks down regularly. And though he and his wife long to have a family of their own, the possibility of conceiving seems unlikely at best. On the verge of losing all faith and hope, Grant is visited by an older gentleman who claims to have a message from God. The man reads Revelation 3:8, which encourages Grant to view life from a different perspective—God’s perspective.

I won’t tell you the outcome because I don’t want to spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but I wanted to outline the premise for those of you who can relate. Those who are frustrated about things being harder than they should be, taking longer than they’re supposed to, and leaving you grasping for any thread of hope. You’re tired. You’re weary. You’ve tried so hard to serve God, but it seems like your only reward is fatigue and frustration. You’re ready to quit and looking for one good reason to keep going.

To you, my dear one, God offers these words: “I know thy works.” Yes, God is keeping track. He is aware of your faithfulness. He knows all you do for Him and is working on your behalf night and day. He loves you and wants only what is best for you. So. . .

He has set before you an open door that no man can shut. Yes, my friend, God has made a way. He has opened that door of opportunity. Of ministry. Of relationship. He has given you something to do, and it’s up to you to do it.

Then, notice this next phrase: “for thou hast a little strength.” Not a lot. Just a little. Just enough to grasp that last thread of patience. Just enough to keep your mouth shut when you want to tell that coworker what you think. Just enough to keep from throwing in the towel. A little strength.  

It doesn’t sound like much of a compliment, does it? But, in God’s eyes, a child with a little strength is much better than a mighty warrior king. The strong are self-sufficient. They think they can do anything and everything. They have no need of God. Those with just a little strength, on the other hand, are at the point where they have nothing left to give, and they know it. In their weakness, they are made strong because it is when they turn it all over to God. And so, God looks on and says, “Yes, she has a little strength. I can do something with that.”

This verse has reverberated in my mind over the past couple of weeks. As I’ve crawled on my hands and knees to stretch protective coverings over the floor and climbed ladders to tape off the moldings around the house, I’ve heard God’s voice reminding me, “You have a little strength. That’s good. I can use that. I can multiply that. I can use that weakness to show you just how strong I am.”

Sometimes a little strength is all you need. Hang in there, dear one. God is doing a mighty work. Look for those open doors and rely on His power. He’ll see you through.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— II Corinthians 12:9

Roses or Rotten Eggs?

The rotten-egg smell confused me, but the dreaded click followed by--well, nothing--confirmed my fear.  Something was definitely wrong with my Xterra.  It didn't get it.  It started fine this morning as I went out to run a few errands.  Everything looked fine.  No warning lights.  No hesitations, coughs or moans (from the car, at least).  Suddenly, I noticed a smell.  "Yuck, something smells like rotten eggs," I said, figuring the smell was coming from something I was driving past.  But when the smell didn't diminish, I began to grow concerned.

When I arrived at my first stop, which wasn't too far from home, I looked around inside the vehicle to see if some food or trash had gotten left behind from Jason's recent work trip to Atlanta.  Not seeing anything, I exited the car and went inside the store to do my shopping.  After picking up the few items I needed, I went back to my car and opened the door.  The smell nearly knocked me over.  "What is that?" I complained as I turned the key in the ignition.  Click.  "Seriously?" I whined, turning the key again.  Click"Fabulous," I muttered as I pulled my phone out of my purse and called Jason.  The good news is that he answered immediately.  The bad news is that he couldn't get to me for another hour.  So, I did the only thing I could do.  I made the best of a bad situation.

For starters, I went into a different store in the shopping center and purchased a bag of chocolate-covered donuts and a Pepsi.  (Hey, in my defense, I had left the house without having breakfast, and with all the added stress of the morning, I had a doozy of a headache coming on.)  Anyway, I made my way back out to my car with my breakfast of champions and devoured nearly half the bag of donuts as I completed my daily Bible reading on my phone.  When I had finished that, I still had plenty of time before Jason arrived, so I tucked the remaining donuts away (before I ate those too) and visited the thrift store in the shopping center.  Several minutes later, I exited with a cute little sweater and a much-better attitude than I had had an hour earlier.

Why am I telling you all this?  Simply because sometimes life does not cooperate with our well-laid plans.  I had errands to run.  I had things to do.  I had made plans, and in just a few minutes, all my plans crumbled.  The result was an attitude of bitterness, anger and frustration.  It's only natural.  The problem is that it's the wrong nature.  It's the fleshly nature.  The spiritual nature should have a totally different reaction.  A spiritual reaction would have been to assess the situation and say, "Lord, I don't know why this is happening, but I trust that You have Your reasons and that they are for my good.  Help me to praise You anyway.  This is still the day that You have made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it."

I'm telling you about my rotten day (and equally rotten attitude) to remind you that there is a right and wrong way to respond when life seems to be pitching one lemon after another.  One looks at the problem.  The other looks at the problem-solver.  One focuses on the bad.  The other focuses on the good.  One evokes anger and frustration.  The other, gratitude and joy.  I urge you to choose the right response.  Even when things look bad, God is still good.  For example, I could have been on the side of the road instead of in a parking lot.  I could have been stranded without a cell signal or, worse yet, chocolate and Pepsi.  God was even good enough to allow me to be broken down in a shopping center with three of my favorite stores:  Family Dollar, Big Lots and a thrift store.  God took care of me, and in the end, all was well.

It turns out there was something seriously wrong with my battery, which was the cause of both the inability to start the car and the horrible smell.  Fortunately, it's still under warranty, so we should be able to get a new one without charge.  But even if it had been something more serious or costly, God would have still deserved praise.  The question is, would I have been willing to give it?

In the movie, Facing the Giants, the coach makes the statement, "Your attitude is like the aroma of your heart."  Well, I'm ashamed to tell you that my heart smelled nearly as bad as my car did this morning.  Don't make the same mistake I did.  I can't promise you that today will turn out the way you have planned.  I can't even assure you that it will be a good day.  What I can tell you, though, is that you have a choice in how you react to the day.  Will your heart smell like roses or rotten eggs?  It's completely up to you!