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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How BIG is your Strength?

Isaiah 12:2 got me to thinking quite a bit about my STRENGTH.  I have never had a lot of muscular STRENGTH in my upper arms and chest.  At least compared to many of the boys in my weight lifting classes in Junior and Senior High.  Bench pressing was kind of a joke and I was never able to do much more than about 2 consecutive pull ups!  The one area that I excelled in was in my leg and thigh STRENGTH.  I still remember the time I squatted 300 pounds in my last gym class at Slater Junior High.  I am not really sure if that was even a big deal to the real athletes in my class, but it was a big deal to me!  The coach even smirked a little at me, but I didn’t care as I finally had at least one area in weight lifting that I did okay in!
Personal STRENGTH come in all sizes and shapes.  There is our physical STRENGTH, our emotional STRENGTH our moral STRENGTH and our SPIRITUAL strength.  Piper grew up in a family where physical STRENGTH or maybe better stated as physical energy was focused on quite a bit.  I am not trying to be funny here, but sleep and naps were important to them.  Sleeping in on the weekends was a normal routine.  In fact when we started dating I could not call Piper until after 11:00 AM on Saturdays so as to not wake the rest of the family.  Mid-day naps were not unusual.  Piper even did some of those after we started dating.  It’s funny though, that after our marriage and especially after having the kids, we would almost have to wrestle Piper down in order for her to stop and rest during the day, when needed!
In my family, I was taught by precept and example that if you were feeling tired or lazy during the day that you went out and got some physical energy.  That is still a course of action that I take today when I may get a little groggy during the afternoon in the 24 hour care of my wife’s needs.  A good brisk walk… well, not always real brisk… does wonders to my physical STRENGTH and to the uplifting of my mental well-being and spiritual psyche!
Family vacations with Piper’s family always included sleeping in and lots of naps for them.  At times it would be a little frustrating for us for we were always up early with the kids and were normally ready for lunch when the rest of the group was beginning to figure out the breakfast menu!  I do have to commemorate my wife though, as she regularly stood up for us during those family times.
It always seemed to me that Piper’s family was not ever real interested in my secular work.  And I guess when you think about it, that is not too unusual as Piper’s Dad was in education and her sister and her husband are in the ministry.  My positions in management within the scientific electronics industry were most likely fairly foreign to them. For many years Piper’s folks and us also attended the same churches in which Piper and I were members of the staff.  Therefore the majority of our conversations had a ministry bent to them, or referenced her Dad’s work at the local JC.
I do remember one vacation on the coast in late August one year.  During an extreme boost in production needs at Agilent Technologies, I had been working a weird 10 hour a day, four days a week (with many five day work weeks and generous portions of weekend overtime …) on an unusual shift that ended around 2:00 in the morning for the last year.  We had also recently completed our summer programs at the church including an original VBS that I wrote and directed.  Needless to say, I was quite wiped out by the time that vacation came.
During the first weekend we were at the house on the coast, I plopped down on the couch alone in the living room, as everyone else seemed to congregate in the kitchen/family room, and flipped on the TV to vegetate for a while and watch a preseason 49ers football game.  After a few moments I heard a slight commotion going on in the kitchen.  I heard a few somewhat heated exchanges and then my wife came romping into the living room with her patented mischievous/victorious grin on her face.
She snuggled up next to me on the couch and proceeded to tell me that her Dad wasn’t too happy with my breaking the mood of the vacation by watching a football game.  (they were not real sports fans at the time…).  But she assured me with her glistening eyes and a pinch of my arm that she had taken care of it for me.  She related how she had set him straight by informing him about the year I had just been through and that she wanted me to be able to relax and watch the game.  And you know… we never heard another word about it for the rest of our time there… everybody was all smiles!
I am not sure how much watching that game that day really renewed my physical STRENGTH, but it did help to clear out some of the tired cobwebs in my head and get my thoughts off of both of my jobs!  The Prophet in Isaiah 12:2 informs us to “Look! (Behold! – Wow!)  (for) God is my savior.  (therefore) I am confident (and expectant) and unafraid because the Lord is my STRENGTH and my song.  He is my Savior.” (God’s Word ©)
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul likewise told us that “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (KJV)  Meaning that in Christ he found his real STRENGTH.  For in his weak times he allowed the STRENGTH of Jesus’ grace to take over and thereby empower him in every way necessary for him to do whatever he needed to accomplish for the Lord.  I believe Paul is reminding us that our personal STRENGTH is not BIG enough to do all that Papa God expects and/or asks of us.  He wants us to believe in, ask for and then depend on the type of STRENGTH that only He can give us!
The word for STRENGTH in Isaiah 12:2 is an all-encompassing word that includes all areas of our life including “material, or physical, personal, or social or political.” (Thayer’s)  In my way of thinking… that just about covers it all… doesn’t it?  With that promise we should never again have an excuse for being weak in any way, shape or form.  When our personal, emotional, mental or spiritual strength is ebbing, it is time to turn it over to Him and let the BIG STRENGTH inherent in His grace give us the oomph to pull off whatever task is set before us.
Hummm… does that mean we’ll never really be able to complain again to others about how tired or stressed out we are because of our jobs, family responsibilities, the situations in our lives and the myriad of other things that we have to do each day?  Interesting thought isn’t it!  Have a great day today.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whose STRENGTH am I expecting to empower me today?”

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