I will think first of my insufficiency. I feel very weak and inadequate sometimes and always am wishing for more of God. I have recognized for a long time that I have no strength at all which is not from God.
We know that if we lack wisdom we may ask of God and he will show the way. If you have asked for the right reason, that is, if nothing hinders or prevents Him in your desires, then the solution will come. I have proved Him “o’er and o’er” and I can say without any fear at all, “God will help you if you place yourself in His hands and trust.
Many times, you will hear people say how hard it is living the Christian life—the discipline involved, the self, which constantly rears its head and interferes with spiritual power flow. The constant tension between the lower nature and the higher nature some say is so discouraging. Some describe it as a turmoil between mind and soul, and ask, “Where is that peace which passes all understanding?” If you read the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, you will see that he shows in allegorical style the many obstacles that the Lord allows us to encounter and they are placed in our way as the obstacle course is in the life of the soldier. By the time he has had six weeks of training, he can go through the courses with ease. The Lord wants to strengthen the Christian and so we have the difficult places.
We may struggle to find words to speak of reassurance when challenged in that way. Words are not enough, but the Lord gives images that are helpful. I like to think of this tug and pull as a great ship at rest in the harbor. It is anchored there and freely floats about within a limited space but has no freedom to drift away. We are held—we are anchored—we are kept by His power. Another picture, regardless of struggles, there is one in the yoke with us. When we are pulled we simply know that he is yoked with us, and he is doing supernatural pulling for us. So we can say, “Even my insufficiency is of God, because, though I have limitations, God is more evident when He performs. Back now to the ship metaphor, if I by nature were strong and confident then God would be a figurehead, one to whom I mouthed prayers, but then went about my business of setting the sails and commanding the ship. But No! God is my refuge—my strength, A Very Present Help.
In further meditation on the thought, “My sufficiency is of God,” I have considered ways to keep myself focused on this truth. Once my little granddaughter came to me and said, “Grandma, will you hear my Bible verse?” I was delighted and her verse was Psalm 18:1-2. I made my screen saver this scripture verse to run like Times Square and that helped me remember how great is God’s sufficiency. I kept it there for a couple of years until I changed it to another one. This is Psalm 18:1-2. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation and my high tower. It was an extremely helpful way to remind myself that without the Lord I am as a reed in the wind, and have no stability at all. I thank the Lord and praise Him for this great blessing He has given me.
At quiet times I ask the Lord for verses from His Word to help to crystallize these thoughts and to give me more. Many treasures I have found. I will show four here as examples.
Deut. 31:6 The Lord Thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee nor forsake thee.
Deut. 33:25 As thy days, so shall thy strength be.( at nearly 96 I am living proof of this!)
2nd Tim.1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.
2nd Tim. 2:1 Be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.
And, in addition to the wonderful verses he guided me to find, He has given me beautiful thoughts to ponder. For example: “You believe in God, believe also in me,” and in pondering that again, I see that my sufficiency is in the grace of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave himself for me. Many verses of poetry have taken on new meaning:
For example, this four- liner is worth remembering, and I cannot find it on internet nor in my Barclay’s, so let’s call it anonymous, but I am pretty sure there is an author, but I can’t remember nor find it:
So many faiths and so many creeds
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is what the old world needs.
Here is a favorite Bible verse that takes on deeper meaning as I grow older.
Luke 9:48 “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me, and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me, for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” That should give us pause. The responsibility for holding a child’s life as a sacred trust is shown here by the Lord himself! When I receive a child, it is literally the Lord. Jesus loves the little children of the world, the song says—
I remember all the stories I have told to children. I remember all the love I have shown to children through the years. I remember the hours and hours I have spent reading, adapting and learning stories for the little ones. Then I think, “Let the little ones come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” That causes me to think that inasmuch as I have loved and received my Christian brothers and sisters and have shared the bread of Life that He has given me, I know that I have acted in His stead. He is my sufficiency. I cannot forgive, but God can and does help me to do it. I cannot love, but God puts his own love inside my heart and enables me to shine for Him. I cannot teach, but the Lord stands there in the person of the Holy Spirit and brings all things to my remembrance. Praise the Lord for He is Good. He is indeed, all my sufficiency! I shall not want for anything, for He is my shepherd! Then I like to think of the spiritual application of that term, and realize that I am under the powerful protection of the Lord and He is my sufficiency!
The Psalmist, David, sang in Psalm 139 all that lovely praise to the Lord for His Great sufficiency! I will sing it with him and never forget it at any time!
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether. You beset me behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.
Yes, my greatest blessing is my insufficiency. It is when I feel the weakest, the most inadequate, that the Lord steps in and surprises me with such strength, such fluency of speech, and other signs that I cannot but know who it is that is responsible for my sufficiency. A very large volume I could fill with all of the examples of such times when he showed himself to me without any room for doubt at all. I will mention just one of his great surprises here.
One time while leading a conference either at Ridgecrest or Glorieta, I forget which, it was for the Missions Festival called Jericho. My class consisted of ministers, ministers of youth, missionaries, etc. One of them asked me, “I belong to a fellowship of ministers and rabbis. Can you give me some sources for stories that would be helpful to tell at our meetings sometimes?” There I was, with all of my files at home. This was before the book, Storytelling in a Nutshell, was published. I said, “The resource list I have included in your handouts will have many such stories, but will you give me time to think about this tonight and bring something for the entire class tomorrow?” It was all right with him. That evening I said to my husband, “I am going to need your prayers for God to help me.” I then explained, “All my files are at home, and I have nothing but the titles in the resource list and I am not sure I will remember what stories are in which book mentioned as a source for stories.” We were on our knees together for a few minutes then I took my resource list in hand and began to think about these wonderful stories.
The stories began flooding my mind and the source for each came right along with it. I wrote them with a marker on a blank transparency and had them ready to show the next morning. I told several of them to the class for their enjoyment. That fact alone is amazing. I would normally have to review a story that I have not told for a while! I remembered them and could tell them! About two years after that I had a phone call from that same minister asking permission to use the resource list including what I had written on the transparency. He was going to be leading a workshop in storytelling to the ministers and rabbis! Of course, I was delighted; we talked a bit and it was a huge encouragement to me that he had gone ahead with his storytelling and wanted to pass it on to other ministers.
The words of the Psalmist in the verse I quoted above are so applicable here, for he says, even before a thought is on my tongue he knows it altogether! Then “such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attain it.” Amen! Remember, I said, I have enough such marvelous and awesome stories to fill a large book! Since I am now almost 96 years of age, I have a great store of such experiences. Wow! I didn’t realize how long this is. I wrote most of this years ago, but I revised it for the blog, because now that my latest book is out and I am on another one, I feel that my blog readers should know that I do not claim any glory for any of my writing because I gave it all over to the Lord many years ago! That is how I am able to be fruitful for Him in my old age, for he promised it in His word! I really must tell one more.
I had a workshop for the MBA Alumni of the University of Richmond, and remember, I was a seasoned storyteller and experienced in workshops on a national level to such audiences as I showed in the above example, so I had the shock of my life that just as the room was filling up with the men and women who were having coffee and talking while I was looking at the watch and it was about ten minutes before starting time. Out of the blue, for the first time in my storytelling life, I had an attack of stage fright! It was sudden and severe! My legs would hardly hold me up as I hurried to the restroom. I went in a stall and down to my knees in that unheard of place, but I had to have privacy and I had to kneel! “What is this, Lord? I thought I was in your will when I prayed about accepting this invitation! What is going on here? I can’t teach in this condition!” I was bawling hard! Just as suddenly as it came, it left me, and I stood up, washed my face, re-fixed my face and while I was doing that, I felt like ice cold steel was inserted in my spine and it went right on up to my head! My brain was a cool as a cucumber!
The voice was my normal strong voice, and filled with authority and self-possession way out there beyond anything I had felt just minutes before!
The Lord took charge and taught this course for me, and I will have you know that every anecdote and illustration that I had carefully researched and prepared to use, was replaced by others that I knew, but had never planned to use in this particular workshop! When I left them at noon, these people I had given a one on one assignment to tell each other stories out of their own experience that would be suitable to use in evaluating an employee and I left it up to them to decide what the problem would be with the employee and the story they would use in a hypothetical way to get the point across with the employee. They turned to each other and began and were immediately absorbed in their own storytelling and I waved a goodbye sign to them and walked out to my car walking on air all the way! What is your reaction to that story? You see plainly that the Lord is my sufficiency!