I spent the weekend at my college homecoming with the friends of my youth. We were young bucks together – brothers, champions on fields and in the ladies’ hearts. True legends of the university, soon to conquer the world. At least that’s how we remember it.
Back then, the talk was of girls, sports, parties, and well… girls. This time we mostly talked of the good old days, recent medical procedures, new aches, chronic pains, and family. Our waists are bigger and our hairlines have shifted. Every one of us is slower but wiser. I found it hysterical to go to dinner in this college town when no one had to mooch because we actually have money.
It was so good to see these guys. They have faithfully followed my family’s journey through cancer and the loss of Kylie and been a great source of encouragement to me. I needed this weekend to thank them, hug them, be with them and reconnect. This is the first time I’ve been able to go. Life got in the way for far too long.
I can’t tell you how many times one of my old friends told me how much they admire my strength. I’m humbled by that statement… humbled and slightly embarrassed. I have heard it before and I want to let you in on a little secret:
I’m the weakest guy you know.
- I’m not strong unless strength is simply resisting the urge to stay in a fetal position all day long.
- I argue that strength is not the mere act of putting one foot after the other, staggering like a drunk with no foreseeable direction.
- There is no strength in speaking or writing about the little girl I miss so much – that is only desperation, if anything. I am desperate to make sure she isn’t blotted out from my feeble memory or yours.
I saw strength – strength that fought the beast to the very end armed with nothing more than a smile. This strength you think you see in me is an illusion. It is more fear than strength. And I will tell you what I tell anyone who gives me that compliment:
You would do the same thing.
If you were faced with the same dilemma and your son or daughter were stuck in a hospital bed, you would do whatever necessary to move one hour into the next. You would do anything for one smile. If you had to shepherd your family past a devastating loss, you would do the same things I have done, probably better. I pray you never have to do so, because then you will know what weakness truly is.
I had downloaded several podcast for the trip. On the way home I chose a series from Your Move with Andy Stanley, who does both leadership podcasts and sermons. I freely admit that I thought this selection was more about leadership because I have steered clear of most preaching since February. The series was about being stuck in circumstances that seem to leave no way out. Very relevant, but he got me – it was taken straight out of the Bible. I listened anyway and the verse that hit me was 2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Since I’ve been embarrassed about being called strong when I feel so weak, I had to pause the sound and ponder that one. It only took a minute for me to realize that what people see in my weakness is a reflection of perfect strength – but it isn’t me! That is a mirage. No, somehow my ineptitude and weakness mirrors the potent strength of an all-powerful God. And aren’t I an unlikely surface? With my flaws, dirt, and cracks it would seem impossible to see a reflection at all – much less his!
How does this work? Especially now. Now, in this time where I doubt God, I fear God, and I question God more than any other time in my life, he somehow uses me now to show himself strong. This is the mystery of God. Like so many things I’ve encountered in the recent past, there is no explaining him. There is also, at times, no understanding him.
But please understand this: I am weak. I don’t know where I’m going. I have no idea what to do. I move forward only because I am compelled to move away from the pain behind me. This is weakness.
Glaring weakness is my strength.