It’s difficult to write about how I fail. Actually, that’s not true. I often write about my struggles and my failings because out of them grow the grace and power of God which is then used to encourage others in their struggles. However there are some failings that I like to keep hidden, that I like to keep to myself because the shame I feel tells me to keep it in the dark. But from the place of my deepest shame comes my deepest hope. Because it’s not our failings that are important but God’s greatness in our failings. And not His greatness in helping us get it all together so we look presentable. Yes, God does change us more and more into the image of Christ and we rejoice and pursue more of Him in us. It is amazing and exciting, this story of God’s transformation in us. But while transformation, surrender and humility are what we strive for, when we are in despair – devoid of hope that we can ever rise again let alone be transformed – it is the story of God’s glory in our mess – not despite our mess but IN our mess – that brings hope to the hopeless. It is when we are without strength – beaten down and aware of our own failings and inabilities – that we experience the depths of God’s grace and mercy. His light shines brightest in our darkest hour. His mercy tastes sweetest in our desert valleys. His hope sings loudest in our accusing silence than when we are on the mountain tops. And that is how and when God spoke to me. In the middle of my storm, while it was raging, without answer as to how or when it would end He simply said: you were made for this. Oh the seemingly cruel irony of that whispered phrase: you were made for this.
In the middle of spectacular failure on my part, God told me there was a story I was not seeing, a hope I had not dared to take hold of. That who I was then was not who I was made to be, that who I was then was not who I was becoming. He had made me for this story and my failure was not evidence that I had botched it up but it was the set up for His glory. For whom He calls, He enables. The trick is, we do not necessarily see this from the start. We get our assignment, this life we are given to live, and we set out as best we know how. We may even arm ourselves with His word and prayer. We put on, to the best of our ability, the armour of God; and we fight, awkwardly, with swords too heavy, breastplates too big and helmets too wobbly. But the Father is pleased. He hears our prayers, He plants His word in hearts turned to flesh and He never ever leaves us. Soon, we grow into our armour; we wield our swords more skillfully, fit our breastplates and pull our helmets snug onto our heads. We are victorious more often than not and we learn how to retreat and pray powerfully in times of wounding.
But into life a tsunami of immeasurable proportion can rise, often without warning. Not necessarily born out of direct sin or disobedience but unique to who we are and the things and people that have shaped us. For others it might not look to be a tsunami; their ship could easily sail over what would to them be gentle waves slapping against the hull. But for others it has the power to shipwreck the stability we thought we had in Christ. No matter if we are succeeding or overcoming in other areas of our life, this thing stands out, eclipsing all else and making us question and cry out in fear, in despair. God! I cannot do this! God! I do not want this! God! Where are you? Lord! I am a mess; I am broken; I am lying here, wasted on the floor. I am ashamed. I am weak. I cannot see my way through this never ending storm. It is in this moment that God shines like a lighthouse on the shore. You were made for this. And He does not take you out of the storm. He does not calm the wind or the waves. Your ship may plunge up and down through tsunami-sized waves and the water may crash over your deck threatening to capsize you. But you were made for this and as you sail through the raging storm toward the lighthouse you see that you are changing. In the middle of the storm that rages – yes even as it intensifies – you are allowing God to change you into whom He created you to be. Not who the world shaped you to be but into the real you. The you God made, the you God made for this storm, to ride through it, strengthened instead of broken, overcoming and triumphing because of what He does in you through the storm. Because whom He calls He enables and whom He calls He equips. Your storm is not there to defeat you, it is there to show you who you were made to be, who you are. You were made for this.