"But [the Lord] 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." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
I walked into my local YMCA today after an almost three months' absence. I was met by one of my "Y" friends there. Kelly (not her real name) has been a companion in a fitness class that was once called, "Boot Camp" (a very appropriate name, by the way). She met me in the hallway.
"Shawn, it's so good to see you. I haven't seen you in such a long time, I wondered if you had moved away. How was your summer?"
And I was faced with the dilemma I am constantly faced with nowadays. How much do I say to someone who asks that question? How much do I let her in on this spring and summer's horrible circumstances in our family? Do I tell her that I am grieving daily over the loss of both a tiny niece and nephew? Does she really want to know? How much information is too much information? Do I tell her how closely I have come to losing it whenever I speak of the anguish of my sisters and brothers? Or do I just breeze through the conversation with an "Oh, I'm doing fine, how are you?"
I don't know what Kelly's spiritual state is. But today I felt I should share. When she asked me how my summer was, I let her in on some of what we have been through as a family. I could see her shocked and horrified expression as I told my story. Her eyes were swimming with tears. It's amazing how people are so moved by the story.
And the Lord seemed to whisper, "Tell her about My faithfulness. Tell her that I have been a refuge for you. Tell her that I have been what has gotten all of you through this. Tell her."
And before I knew it, I was telling her that Jesus had been my Rock, the Shadow who has hidden me, and that He has been so faithful.
Kelly looked at me and said, "I am so amazed that you have said that about God. Usually people blame Him when terrible things happen to them. That is great that you have not felt that way about Him."
What will that conversation do for our friendship? Only the Lord knows. But I know that a seed was planted. Maybe I will soon be assured that my workout place friend is a sister in Christ. Or maybe Kelly will remember that conversation if life deals her a heavy blow and she needs someone to talk to. Could those precious babies bring my friend to the throne of God one day? That has been my prayer.
How much to say? I am finding more and more that life is not perfect...for anyone. There have been too many times when I have passed up a God-given opportunity to boast about Him because I am afraid to open my mouth. Whether or not people around me acknowledge it, their souls are parched and dry. I can't imagine me being so cruel as to deny them water if I had it and I could see their desperate need for it. Why do I withhold the Living Water from them? When I do not open my mouth and tell someone about my awesome Savior who has met me every step of the way through this dark valley of grief, I am being cruel and disobedient. We all have trouble. But I have found joy in the midst of life's very difficult circumstances. Jesus is the source of that joy. He is my sure foundation, my eternal Rock, and my peace.
Jesus, thank You for that appointed conversation that You let me be a part of today. May this mouth of mine boast in nothing and no one except You. May I open my mouth and let You speak through me to those who are so thirsty around me. Help me to boast in my weakness so that others can marvel at Your strength