To accept our weaknesses and those of others is the very opposite of sloppy complacency. . . It is essentially a concern for truth so that we do not live in illusion but can grow from where we are and not from where we want to be.–Jean Vanier, Community and Growth
Prepping forces us to confront our weaknesses. When we work with our hands, success and failure are obvious and concrete–the roof leaks, or it doesn’t; the harvest is good, or it isn’t. When we work closely with our neighbors, when we depend on them and they on us, our caring and competence become apparent to them, as do our selfishness and carelessness. When we don’t rely on our economic and political system to supply our needs and those of the people we love, we can feel overwhelmed by our responsibility, our shortcomings, and our smallness in the face of huge problems.
Fortunately our faith is not in ourselves. God has been working with flawed and unimpressive people for a long time, and He has done some excellent work. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards… But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…. You are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:26a, 27-28, 30b).
This isn’t an excuse for giving in to our faults. Paul’s writings are full of exhortations to keep the faith, to persevere. He knew that our efforts matter. He also knew that we depend, not on our own goodness, but on God’s grace. Remembering that, we can admit our weaknesses and work to overcome them, instead of desperately pretending that we are the perfectly competent and caring people whom we believe that we need to be.
As Joan Chittister writes in her commentary on the Rule of Benedict, “We are not capable of doing what we are about to do, but we are not doing it alone and we are not doing it without purpose. God is with us, holding us up so that the reign of God may be made plain in us.”
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Today in Christian History
1373 – English mystic Julian of Norwich, 31, by her own account, received a series of sixteen revelations, while in a state of ecstasy lasting five hours. Her book, “The Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love,” was written 20 years later as the fruit of her meditations on this experience. Little else is known of her life.
1816 – The American Bible Society was organized in the Dutch Reformed Church on Garden Street in NY City. The non-profit society was instituted to promote wider circulation of the Scriptures by publishing Bibles without notes or comments.
1845 – At a three-day convention in Augusta, GA, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed by 300 representatives from Baptist churches in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina.
1939 – English apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter: ‘The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes.’
1948 – American missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: ‘Either take me to be with Thee, Savior, or put out the life of this old man as I draw near Thee in the flesh. Consume me, Fiery Lover, as Thou dost choose.’
Source for Today in Christian History: www.studylight.org