God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. I get it. But sometimes I wish it were different. Sometimes I wish God chose the weak things, but then decided to make them crazy strong. That would shame the strong just as well, wouldn’t it? Rather, it seems that God chooses the weak and then, well, keeps them weak. And that just isn’t very easy to swallow.
Whether it’s pastoring a church, raising children, or fighting the physical and emotional demands of the day, simply believing God will come through for us can be difficult. It is like being in an old aluminum canoe and trying to navigate Class V rapids. We are constantly taking on too much water, we are constantly almost thrown out of the boat, and it is just a matter of seconds before our sweet little canoe ends up wrapped around a tree. The truth is, God doesn’t always seem like he equipped us to navigate the rapids of this world. It’s like God worked at the boat rental store and didn’t quite hear our plans for the day. Once on the river we realize God gave us a great boat for fishing on a lake, but it’s a little lacking on this raging river. And that is scary.
Of course, God knows exactly what kind of boat we need and what kind of river we’ll be running. He knows that if we have the beefy raft we won’t really need anything else. He knows that if we don’t need anything else, we won’t look for him. God doesn’t just like to redeem once, he likes to keep redeeming.
When Eve gave birth to Cain, she exclaimed that she had given birth to a grown man (Gen 4:1). Ancient writers told apocryphal stories of Cain coming out of the womb and running over to get a branch for his mother. He was a man-child. Abel, on the other hand, was given a name that refers to breath or vapor. Guess which one God received. Abraham was as good as dead and Sarah was barren when God decided to make them parents. Moses stuttered and David was the runt. Not surprisingly, Jesus shows up the way he does - weak.
I want things to feel more secure and more protected. I want things to be strong so I don’t have to keep worrying about them. I want to know everything is going to be fine because of something more tactile than God. But that isn’t really what God wants. God likes to cultivate and be involved. He likes to be needed. He likes to be the Protector and do the securing. Sadly, there are times when that isn’t the most comforting message to hear. There are times when the message of God’s provision is scarier to me than the fear of screwing something up on my own.
God’s work in us and on earth may be stronger than the gates of hell, but it often feels quite delicate. It feels more like a breath and less like a man-child. And that seems to be the way he likes it. So I guess we pray with Paul, “God keep us weak so that you may be proved strong.” O, and please keep this little canoe afloat.