“… God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained in it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees! ‘Make level paths for your feet’, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Over and over since the beginning of the year I’ve felt the call to pray for God to strengthen and help us where we are weak and immature.
He shows me the ‘great’ men and women of the faith; those we all look up to because of their special gifts and anointings, and then He says ‘now pray for them where they are weak, stunted and foolish.’
I know He is absolutely not calling me to judge them, instead He is asking me to pray that they would be enabled to grow where they are the least mature, and that they would be open to learn from Him where their characters are most vulnerable.
God has been showing me that He is very interested to grow our character, as individuals and as church communities. He is very interested in producing the fruit of the Spirit in us, along side those lovely gifts of the Spirit we so like to focus on.
This summer God gave me a picture as I was struggling with some of my own weaknesses of character. He showed me that I was like a stroke victim.
In my early years of nursing I was particularly drawn to those who had suffered a stroke. I used to imagine laying in their body and how it must have felt to have one half of my body ‘disabled’. There were some things I noted as I cared for these dear folks. Sometimes they completely disowned the non-functioning parts of their body. This was made worse in those instances where the vision on the affected side of their body was impaired through the stroke; they literally could no longer ‘see’ their flaccid or contracted limbs, they could only see the bits that still worked. We had to teach them how to care for those parts that they no longer recognized as their own. Remembering this gave me such a picture of how we can be; we can be so focused on the functioning side of our personality and we can be in complete denial about some of our ‘disabilities’.
I considered what the treatment was for the stroke victim, and remembered the crucial role of the physiotherapists. And with that I felt that our Heavenly Father said, ‘let Me be your Divine Physio Fi’. The answer for my floppy or over-stretched muscles is best brought to me through the hands of my Heavenly Physio. If I will yield my weaknesses to Him, giving Him access to my disabilities, He will begin to work those muscles with His discipline. O boy, I prefer the days when a gentle massage is called for! But I know that ‘for our good’ there are days when the treatment is tougher in order to awaken these sluggish areas, or to bring into His healthy boundaries those out-of-control elements. These ‘treatments’ are essential if I’m to walk with less of a limp.
I am so thankful for friendships which include an honest and loving revealing of my ‘blindspots’. With God’s help I want to always be ready to hear when my weaknesses are adversely affecting my family and my community. I take it quite literally that I belong to the Body of Christ, and that all the other members belong to me too. Their love is to cover all my faults and failings, but it is not to deny them. Love knows me as I really am; both my strengths and my weaknesses. It cheers me on (come on Fi, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees!), it encourages and affirms me, and it also disciplines me and helps me to own the less beautiful parts of me. Sometimes the Body is my physiotherapist.
This year as I watch some highly gifted men making some ghastly mistakes in areas of personal weakness I understand better why God has been impressing on me with urgency to pray that we grow in more than our giftings, but also in our characters. As it says in the text from Hebrews, God would like us to share in His holiness and to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace, and this will take the training of discipline.