Strengthening the Weak

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I am not disciplined.  I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  I was at one time in my life, throughout my school years I could set goals and meet them.  I knew the requirements and reveled in fulfilling them.  Then, I quit.  I don’t know what happened, somewhere after having children I became more laid back.  Well,…I do know what happened…I burned out.

I had such an unrealistic picture of what a Christian mom “should” be.  I would be the perfect mom with the perfect home, a full hot meal on the table at six o’clock each evening after having homeschooled my children most of the day.  Our homeschooling activities were to be the most creative and enlightening I could find, with us galavanting around the city to take advantage of all cultural events.  We were to be involved in all activities the homeschool community planned and be active members at our local church.  I was to continue teaching Bible studies, Sunday school, Children’s church and sing in the choir.  My home was to remain spotless for we would have a tight chore chart to effectively move us through the day with our house intact.  Saturdays we would joyfully work in the yard, together, to create the most lovely park setting for our domestic enjoyment…

Needless to say, somewhere between the second and third pregnancy, I could not keep up.  My body quit.

I was devastated and knew I must have sinned against God in some way, I just couldn’t figure out what I had done.  Some things came to mind, so I went around asking forgiveness of anyone I thought I had offended, just in case.  I wrestled with God, but I didn’t get better…

That was fourteen years ago and now I know, I have an illness that may have been with me since high school.  I recently went to the neurologist for another round of tests and he determined I needed to begin physical therapy (this is where the discipline comes in).  I have not been able to keep up, so in an effort to deny my need for perfection, the pendulum has swung the other way, and I don’t get much done.   I let things pile up from a lack of strength…or discipline…or motivation…or whatever.

So now I’m in therapy.  I must get out the door three days a week and go work with a therapist to strengthen what is weak — my whole body!  She has me doing the simplest movements, almost laughable, and I’m breaking a sweat!!  Discipline…therapy…not joyful for the moment, but afterwards…it yields fruit.

Do you know where I’m going with this?  That’s right…Hebrews 12:3-13

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been  trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feeet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (verses 11-13)

Dealing with those who are weak, God does what He must to strengthen us.  He disciplines us.  At times it can feel like scourging (v.6) but He does it for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. (v.10)

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29 responses »

  1. Michelle,

    I can put you on a prayer list for strengthening (physical and spiritual) that goes all around the world electronically – if it’s OK with you. That’s in addition to a personal prayer list. One of our CMF staffers, a good friend of mine, sends the EBP (Electronic Battle Plan) on a daily basis.

  2. Michelle:

    Another great post. And particularly pertinent to my own experiences with spiritual discipline.

    As someone who has a disability, I’ve had to learn discipline not simply because I’ve lost 60% of my hearing, but also because of the reactions I’ve had from people. My attitude has certainly relaxed over the years, but there was a time when I would bite someone’s head off if they got impatient and said, “Nevermind.”

    But the most significant change in the past few months has been realizing that with a 60% hearing loss, I can’t use an amplified phone any longer. So people who call me have to go through relay. Now, in theory, it sounds incredibly simple–I type on my teletypewriter (TTY), the communications assistant (CA) reads what I’ve written to the caller, and then the CA types what the caller has said. Simple, right?

    You’d think so. But people started calling me “him.” “Tell him I said that…” And that’s what I end up reading. The worst instance was shortly after I had got my TTY, when I had called my father so that he could practice. Well, his wife answered the phone and suddenly I read, “I CAN’T TALK RIGHT NOW. TELL THENOREASTER WE’RE PLANNING A FUNERAL. (PERSON HUNG UP).”

    Well, of course, I went through the roof. I thought my father had died. Or my sister. Or my brother. Or…God only knows who. I would expect that kind of drama from a 20-something–not an elderly woman. And, of course, somebody’s dead, so you can’t just call back and say, “What THE CRAP is wrong with YOU today?!?!”

    But I waited until I had calmed down and called back and left a message and said, “Please don’t leave me hanging like that.” Turns out it wasn’t anyone I knew that had passed away.

    But those are the reactions I get. Can you imagine calling someone in your family and speaking in third person? “Hi. Can you tell Ralph that I said we’ll meet him at 4:30? And that he needs to bring that whatchamacallit he was talking about the other day? Because he said he wanted me to remind him that he needs to bring it.” It’s like you’re not even human.

    Funny thing is, everybody said, “What’s wrong with the Internet?” (which I didn’t have at the time). But now that I do have online access, all those people who wanted me to get it so badly haven’t even sent me a single e-mail.

    Some days, you just can’t win. So I count my blessings–not my burdens.

    Know what I mean? 😆

  3. Dan, thank you for the offer of prayer. I would feel privileged to know someone, somewhere was praying for me every day. I believe firmly in the power of prayer. Remember the story in Daniel 9 and 10 – what an awesome picture of forces in the heavenlies moving when God’s people pray.

    NorEaster, no, I can’t imagine speaking to someone in my family in the third person. Whenever I’ve done it, it was to purposefully show the attitude of arrogance that comes from such an act. Some people just don’t think of how they are coming across.

    Before my disability I wasn’t aware of how my uncomfortable feelings were showing to those who were disabled. I had a hard time looking a disabled person in the eye from fear of showing discomfort, or curiosity. I had always been told not to stare and interpretted that to mean, “don’t look.” Now I know how easy it is to ignore the disabled (me), and how it hurts them (me).

    The lessons we have to learn sure do come in tough ways…the fruit of righteousness and sharing in His holiness…in whatever way I am disciplined to learn compassion, forgiveness, love, patience, endurance…I am learning to accept.

  4. And that acceptance certainly is a profound step in The Potter’s shaping of your clay. 😉

  5. Michelle, re: comment #4 – Having Lupus has done the same thing for me. It has caused me to look at others differently. I needed new eyes. The Lord sure gave them to me. This is what it apparently took. He’s more concerned with my character and growth. I believe I have grown through this affliction. I am humbled He wanted me to grow in the first place at all.

    I became exhausted just reading all you used to do. I would have crashed and burned without a disease. How did you do it? Wow!

  6. NorEaster, you’re wonderful, thanks. 😀

    Tam, He is good to grow us up. 🙂 This poem hung in our home my whole childhood because my dad was a calligrapher and he had made a beautiful plaque:

    My candle burns at both ends
    It will not last the night;
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
    It gives a lovely light.
    ~Edna St. Vincent Millay, “A Few Figs from Thistles”

    My mom once told me how she hated that poem, it was so self-serving and arrogant. I always liked it, thought I needed to be “lovely” for all to notice. Mom was right… 😉

  7. You know, I used to try to do everything, too. But then, like Tam said, I crashed and burned. And I got sick. So now I just take it easy.

    And, hey, if you think I’m cool, Michelle…Then you should meet my friend Michelle. 😉

  8. (Sorry. Don’t much want to go into the “sick” details. Maybe that is a post for another time…?)

  9. “And, hey, if you think I’m cool, Michelle…Then you should meet my friend Michelle”

    NE – you are way too cool!

    And yes, I agree…Michelle – you are one classy sister friend!

  10. Are y’all just trying to make me smile??

    It’s working 😀 Had a hard day so y’all are much appreciated! 😆

    Classy?? WOO-HOO!! In the best Texas twange you can muster. 😉

  11. Hi Miss Michelle…thank you for being there today. Our choices in life definitely play a part in who we become physically, emotionally and spiritually. I believe first and foremost that God wants to heal us in all of those areas. His ministry was based on healing and moving on… The problem with even saying that is it makes people defensive because they have been “diagnosed”. My diagnosis? You are a daughter of the king…your list is similar to what mine was for years until I just lost my mind. I was more focused on the people of God than God. There were so many open doors, that I needed to begin to pray for closed ones. I believe God can heal you in an instant, but sometimes chooses not to. I know I have seen both, and it is not up to me to determine why. I will commit to praying for you daily. That you can count on. You are precious in His sight Michelle, precious. I pray that your healing will be here, and soon. Feel free to delete any mistakes! 😉 Love ya, Debs

  12. “I believe God can heal you in an instant, but sometimes chooses not to.”

    Amen. I have asked, I have pleaded, I have begged, I have believed and I have faith…now I pray, “Thy will be done.” He always answers that one in the affirmative. 😉

    Thanks, Deb.

  13. You sound alot like our mutual friend Miss Tam…
    She suffers as well, and it really does not set well with me. I hope you are able to dwell on “His mercies are new every morning” and not what you’ve been through. Ok, I’m running away now…..

  14. “I believe God can heal you in an instant, but sometimes chooses not to.”

    “‘Amen. I have asked, I have pleaded, I have begged, I have believed and I have faith…now I pray, ‘”Thy will be done.”‘

    You know…that just gave me an idea. 🙂

    Always happy to brighten your day, Michelle. You’ve done it for me plenty of times. 😉

    And, Tam? I’ve had learned mighty plenty about cool hanging out at your blog! 😉 😉 😉

  15. Good Morning, Debs. You know, suffering doesn’t sit well with me either, but somehow in God’s economy it is valuable in gaining proven character. He is more concerned about our character than our comfort. It is for discipline that we endure, and by it the peaceful fruits of righteousness come. I must stand upon the scriptures that explain why…I know you understand that…for I’ve seen you standing strong these days, as well. 😉

    Keep speaking the truth in love – I feel sure, God is pleased with your faithfulness.

  16. Sometimes I think we go through ‘stuff’ of life to be a testimony of how a King’s kid can handle and deal with the ‘stuff’ in ways those apart from Christ cannot. The death of a child is one example. Others can look at us and how we ‘cope’ and maybe just want what we have and a door opens for the gospel to be presented.

  17. NE – I’m blushing…awwww 🙂

    Deb – you’re funny!

    Michelle – I know you and I feel the same about this. It’s not that we don’t WANT to be healed. It’s not that we enjoy this affliction. It’s not that we don’t believe HE is a Healer and is capable. He is able, more than able. But who am I to tell the potter that He has mistaken. I am content in Him that He knows best. That there is a bigger purpose involved here. And it’s most assuredly not about me. This affliction that has and will continue to grow my character is for another’s benefit. it is so I can learn compassion so that i can give it to someone else. so that i can better relate to others, identify. so that i would dig into Him so my life would bear much fruit that in turn will shine for others to see how amazing God truly is. The testimony and beauty in this affliction is that I will Praise my God anyway! In good and bad. I’ve said before HE already has healed me. I had a much worse disease than Lupus. I had the disease of judging. I judged others who were “always sick”. They irritated me and I always thought they were faking. God healed me of that. I’d rather be afflicted with lupus than a judgmental heart any day. Praise God!!

  18. You guys are an inspiration!!! Testimony time…

    As someone who has a disability, I’ve had to learn discipline not simply because I’ve lost 60% of my hearing, but also because of the reactions I’ve had from people. My attitude has certainly relaxed over the years, but there was a time when I would bite someone’s head off if they got impatient and said, “Nevermind.” ~NorEaster

    The death of a child is one example. Others can look at us and how we ‘cope’ and maybe just want what we have and a door opens for the gospel to be presented. ~Dan

    I am content in Him that He knows best. That there is a bigger purpose involved here. And it’s most assuredly not about me…I had a much worse disease than Lupus. I had the disease of judging. I judged others who were “always sick”. They irritated me and I always thought they were faking. God healed me of that. I’d rather be afflicted with lupus than a judgmental heart any day. Praise God!! ~Tam

    I believe God can heal you in an instant, but sometimes chooses not to. I know I have seen both, and it is not up to me to determine why. I will commit to praying for you daily. That you can count on. ~Debs

    Thank you!! 😀

  19. Am I too late to get in the group hug??? 😉

    this topic of HIS strength in my weakness has been on my mind lots lately, and that usually means i will soon start digging hard on it…and teach it as i learn it…Does God ever do that to you?? just start something deep in you until you are consumed and reading everything you can..and praying about it lots?? Man, HE does that too me, and i can do nothing else until I go there…you and this post are confirmation for me!!

    I agree with Tam= you are one classy woman, and I love hearing a Texan shout wooohoooo! 🙂

  20. Darla, it’s never too late for hugs!! *hug self tightly and know it’s from me* 😉

    “Does God ever do that to you?? just start something deep in you until you are consumed and reading everything you can..and praying about it lots??”

    All the time!! And since I’m not teaching anymore, I have a bad tendency to talk too much in my weekly Bible study group! I want to share what’s happening…I learn mostly through teaching so now, I blog instead.

    Where do you teach? Isn’t it incredible when you know God is telling you something? He’s so good to us.

    Classy?! Y’all are funny. 🙄

  21. Michelle – First off, can i say i LOVE your new comment pic!?
    well i guess i just did anyway 😉

    We are kin in the discipline department and the Hebrews passage is SPOT On!

    But God cannot discipline our minds ( that part of us concerning ‘free-will’.

    He can send all the ‘hints and circumstances He WIll but we get the first say on ewhether or not we listen and what lessons we learn from them – and once we start down a particular path (listening to or cursing the Lord for what He sends us – it is very hard to change -sometimes it requires ‘life’threateing’ actions to get us to do so ( and sometimes even then our stubbornness and selfish will remains strong and ‘in control’ and we just ‘die’.)

    We need to develop the discipline to control our mind and thought and not let it control us.- we NEED to choose Him and dedicate ourself to both following His Will ( of the Spiritual) AND ridding ourselves of the negative selfish aspects of our ‘free-will’.

    Some are very ‘disciplined’ at the former but neglect the latter – because they don’t know HOW and can’t see the need or relevance to them, yet.

    Self-discipline is the key.

    I LOVED the quote you made….“take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”

    That’s only the beginning of our ‘work’.

    <B

  22. Glad you like the pic – I got tired of being a cartoon head. 🙂

    Taking every thought captive is from 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

    “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”

    Talk about discipline!! I have come to understand the need for the divinely powerful weapons of this warfare. Anyone who is in Christ has been given the mind of Christ, to appropriate His thinking is the struggle, I’m thinking. Since one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, we can count on Him to help us with the work, don’tcha think?

    Glad to see your face over here – Is the weather beginning to cool down in your part of the world?

  23. Sdaly – the cooler weather approacheth 😉 – and the much needed rainfall – This is the wettest April on Record for Perth! over 3 times the ‘average for this month. Good for our scheme water dams though!

    I have NEVER, nor will i ever, deny that Christ Helps us when and as we choose to seek His Help.Or that His Spirit is the beginning of our Salvation.

    I do query though your comment that we receive the MIND of Christ? May i have soem scripture that confirms this?

    I recognise our minds as being the ‘high places’ where are the strongholds (fortresses) we do battle against ( from 2 Cor) when we seek to fight the Good Fight to overcome our error and Live in Him, Spirit to spirit.

    Here it is that our free will that is undisciplined yet, tries to steer us away from Him and the wise counsel of the Spirit in our Hearts.

    There it is we need to begin our ‘work’ in order that He Rule and Guide us always, and not our ego.

    The mind is full of deceit – therin lies much wisdom! 😉

    Hope you get to enjoy some sunshine on you soon! 🙂

    <B

  24. You changed your picture too – I like! 🙂 I had to look closely to see if it was Dan from Born for Battle – these squares are too small to get a good look. You look to be a happy man, Love! 😉

    Here’s a few references on how our minds have been changed through the Spirit’s work:

    1Co 1:10 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.

    1Co 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

    Phi 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that – whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent – I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel…

    The I Corinthians 2 verse is the one I was referring to but I want to back up a few verses to put it in context and then give a cross-reference to Jesus’ words:

    For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man (an unspiritual) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. But who had known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (verses 10-16)

    John 15:15
    No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

    John 16:12-15
    I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear then now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

    I Thess 5:23-24
    Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring in to pass.

    I see from these scriptures that every part of us has been set apart for God and that He gives His mind, His thinking to us, so that we may walk in the manner which He has called us to walk.

    We are to appraise the things of God by asking for His mind in a matter and seeking His truth in the word.

    I think my most recent post helps to explain how I feel this battle for the mind is a spiritual battle and we must keep our helmet of salvation firmly set in place, to be able to resist the fiery darts (wrong thoughts) of the evil one.

    Oh Love, we get plenty of sunshine in Dallas. Spring began in February and it’s almost time for swimming!! My roses are in full bloom and I’ve been diligently trimming to keep the yard in pristine condition – I’m a bit obsessive compulsive! 😉 Dallas is on the same latitudinal line as Israel – it gets HOT here. 😎

  25. Michelle,

    I know I’m way behind on this post and comments here, but I read a devotional today that I wanted to share with you, and this post seemed to ‘fit it’ best =).

    I appreciate and agree with all you and others here have said. Perhaps this can minister to all of us as well.

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/Crosswalk%20Devo/11575009/

    By the way, so you’re in Dallas? I was born in Denton (though I don’t really remember it since we moved to Beaumont just a few years after).
    My husband and I went to college in Abilene, and then medical training in Austin.
    My dad was raised in San Angelo and my mom near Austin, so there’s a lot of Texan blood in my veins. (I’ve tried hard to keep it out of my speech though =).
    We moved my parents out from Bryan in Feb. ’06 into an assisted living facility, and since have added on to our place so they were able to move in here last December.

    Anyway, I hope the devo. ministers to you as it did me
    (God’s ‘crosses’ are all custom-made =).

    D-

  26. Thank you, Laz, for the link. It was good to read, to be reminded the purpose is worth the struggle.

    You ARE a Texan – through and through – embrace the accent!!! It’s distinctive. 😆

    Hardin Simmons? I went to college in OKC and was away for 12 years, then came back to Dallas to be near family. Family is important, it’s so good you were able to bring your parents to your home. I know that has it’s own challenges, but what a great ministry to them.

    Thanks again, comment wherever you want, I’m glad people are still reading past posts. 😉

  27. Michelle,

    Happy Birthday, and I hope it is a very special one for you, celebrating with family and friends here & there =).
    I think today is also Israel’s 60th anniversary of it’s establishment (1948). My husband and I have been going there yearly since 2004 (tho’ I missed last year), so we try to keep up with the ‘goings on’ there as much as possible.

    I left another comment last PM, but it may have gotten ‘eaten’ again.
    It was mainly just to answer your question re: the college in Abilene. It was Abilene Christian (C of C – not Baptist =).

    If you find it, you can post it or not. It wasn’t anything profound, just ‘informational’.

    Have a great day!
    D-

  28. Laz, Abilene Christian was my other choice…I had a couple of friends from high school who attended there. I couldn’t find the other comment you posted… 😦

    Every year you make a trip to Israel? What an amazing blessing that is – I hope to get to go for the first time next year. Not really sure how I’ll do that with my handicap, but I am anxious to go.

    Did you notice my links in the blogroll? Schmoozing with Elya Katz and the Terrorism Awareness…I’m a Christian Zionist (not the Hagee-type though) but I don’t usually talk politics on the blog. Just leave the links for anyone caring where my heart lies. 😉

    So far it’s been a beautiful day…thanks! You too. ~Michelle.

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