Strong as an Ox, Weak as a Baby

Tags: Knowing God, Hearing God
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Strong as an Ox, Weak as a Baby
Strong as an Ox, Weak as a Baby is a true, testimony of how we may sometimes think that we are wholly independent, only to reminded that we are called to a life of intimacy and dependence upon God.

Strong as an Ox, Weak as a Baby

I normally consider myself as strong as an ox, spiritually speaking. I know the Bible, I know the Lord, I know his peace, I know his assurance, I know his forgiveness, I know his love, I know his goodness, I am overjoyed with his presence, I am great at praying for people, I want to bless everyone and share with everyone about everything concerning the Lord, and the list goes on, and on, and on. In short, I’m a “super Christian,” right?

Wrong.

Just flat out wrong!

If it was not for the grace of God, I would be a zippo. Or, as Jesus said,

“... apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

How much of “nothing” is “me”? The answer? Zero.

Or to put it another way, how much of anything I do is to be credited to me? The answer again, zero.

Our lives are “all Jesus.” Well, they are supposed to be “all Jesus,” at any rate. It is supposed to be Christ living in us. While it is true that we live, our strength is supposed to come from Christ. But some of us don’t realize that. And that someone may be me, sometimes. I confess, it may really be me!

In my attempts to do the right thing, I may do the wrong thing. And when I do the wrong thing? Well, it is certainly not Jesus doing it, that is for sure! In that case, it is me doing it, not Jesus. For Jesus will not take credit for sin. But if I do what is right, it is Jesus living in me, doing his work through me. But because I do it, just because Jesus lives in me, does not prove that it is Jesus doing it through me. For sin is not of Jesus. He will live in us, in the midst of the sin, but he will not approve of the sin.

How can this be?

Jesus lives inside each genuine believer, through his Holy Spirit, who indwells them. It is a miracle, really, but that is what happens.

“But if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.” (See Romans 8:9)

Thus, Jesus certainly dwells inside each believer, through the Holy Spirit, who is “the Spirit of Christ” in the above verse. However, this does not prove that everything I do is approved of in God’s sight. It might not be. And I have a confession to make, it sometimes is not! This confession means that I sometimes do not do the right thing, for if I did, it would be Jesus doing it through me. And thus, my authority, and my confidence, would be unshakable. In other words, as strong as an ox!

But therein may lie another deception, in that anyone who simply feels as strong as an ox, may in fact not be. They may be weak, with their feelings betraying them. We are not the best judges of who we are, or our spiritual condition. Are you? Sometimes, when I think I am doing the best, I am actually doing the worst. Sometimes, when I’m doing the worst, well, it might be that God is even more pleased with me, for I am more humble, even, than when I think I am doing well.

Do not be deceived. You might not be doing as well as you think. Or, if you are feeling terrible, you might be doing a whole lot better than you think. Do not rely upon your feelings, but press in to God!

Recently, I had an amazing experience. I say it is “amazing” because of what I learned. And I would have thought I had “known it already.” But I didn’t. I did not, and this just goes to prove that I may not know as much as I think I know!

I went through a time of stress, and trouble, and travail, and trial. No, I did not like it. I really hated it. In the midst of it, I was truly weakened. I did not know what to do. That day was a Friday. I went to a church meeting that evening, because there is a church service happening at 7:00 or 7:30 on Friday evenings. Thus, I went.

The church service went fine, and was uplifting. I also knew there was a time of praise and intercession1 happening after the service for those who wanted to stay. Before that time began, I drove my daughter home from the main Friday evening service. On the way to our home, I sensed a real heaviness in my spirit, and a sense of vulnerability that was very noticeable. What was going on? While there were no issues with driving my daughter home, the Lord was indicating to me that it was not his will that I refrain from attending this second service (the time of praise and intercession). It would have been “terribly easy” for me to have just remained at home, but it was not God’s will! Thus, God used the “sense” (or, should we say, “caused” the sense) of vulnerability to send a clear message to me, that “safety” was back at the second service! Yes, this is how God works sometimes. But is anyone listening?

Thus, I dropped my daughter off at home, and turned around and went back. In the midst of it, the peace was there (but not back at home, for me), because God was with me. He was directing me. He wanted me back at the church building! (And by golly, I was going to be there!)

I’m telling you the sense of oppression was very real. It was not just a sense of vulnerability but a real weightiness in my spirit. I had not felt like that for months and really probably years, even. So there was definite heaviness in the air or possibly even in my own heart! Wherever that oppression existed, it was certainly affecting me in a very profound way. Thus, I turned around, went back to the church building, and attended to the time of praise and intercession.

The thing that I felt was not just a “sign” that God was giving me. But rather, there was also a sense of real oppression on me. I really needed to be at that time of praise and intercession, for my own sake!

I went in there sensing heaviness, and I wanted simply to pray, kind of with my head down, in a rather downcast position. However, when I arrived and began to hold my head down, and attempted to simply pray without entering into worship and praise along with everyone else, something happened! I felt the Lord speak to me, and say, “Lift your head up and begin to offer praise and thanksgiving!”

So I did! When I did, the heaviness that was on me started to leave me. I could feel the oppression starting to peel off. This proved to be a very significant evening, particularly because of this one thing. Thus, I’m glad “in a way” that I experienced the heaviness, so I could experience anew the power of praise and thanksgiving. How powerful is praise and thanksgiving? The Bible says,

“The Lord Yahweh’s Spirit is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Did you notice the last part, “to give to them ... the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”? Well, that’s what happened that evening. The Lord wanted me to hold my head up and praise him, rather than simply “pray about it.” For there is a time to pray, but there is also a time to praise. And we ought to be sure to do both, and not just one or the other. That evening, I learned a powerful lesson on the value of praise. What I did not realize, however, was that this powerful lesson was not over yet.

That evening, I drove a friend home. It was a rare opportunity to drive him home, due to the fact that I alone was driving, and normally I would have had to drive my family home, so there would not be opportunity to drive him all the way into the city where he lives, but rather simply drop him off at a subway station where he would normally take the subway.

But on this evening, I was alone, so I was able to drive my friend home, which was 10 miles away (or thereabouts). On the way to his place, my friend asked me how I was doing. And I confessed to him my sense of heaviness, which was not entirely cured. For the Lord had done a work, but there was more to go.

But if I had not even been there, to attend the time of praise and intercession, I would not have gotten to drive my friend home. Thus it was that we spoke and some more burdens were lifted. The lifting of these burdens came as a result of “confessing” my burdens to my friend. It was a wonderful time to simply receive. I went home feeling more refreshed than ever. But was it over? Were all of my burdens now completely lifted? Well, actually, not!

Let me tell you something else remarkable that happened that evening, before I even attended the time of praise and intercession. During the regular service, we took communion. We did this by finding a group of people (about 5) to pray with as we took communion. In our group was a man named Juan. I did not know his last name. For some reason, I felt like saying to the entire group, “Juan’s last name is Amigo” (which is Spanish for “friend”). I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to guess someone’s last name before, and I did not think that, in reality, his last name was “Amigo,” but that is what I felt inspired to say, so I said it to our group of about 5 people.

I said, “Juan’s last name is Amigo”.

To my utter surprise, Juan then responded by saying, “Actually, my mother’s last name is Amigo.”

Well, I was amazed! For he really was an “Amigo” if you considered his mother’s side of the family. Due to (common) tradition, Juan uses his father’s last name, as most people do. But in reality, he is equally “Amigo,” as well, due to his mother’s last name. Thus, in a very real way, I got it right. But was that really me who got that right? No, certainly not. The entire credit has to go to Jesus, because apart from Jesus, we can do nothing (see John 15:5, previously quoted).

Thus, when I heard that Juan’s mother’s last name was, in fact, “Amigo,” this then led me to say to the group (and to myself), “God knows us by name, and he cares for each of us, as well.” Thus, this became an encouragement for me and the entire group. I also shared this with others, in order to encourage them. Thus, that evening, God provided encouragement through (1) this event, (2) through praise, and (3) through confessing my burdens to the man I drove home that evening. But it was not over. Four days later, I knew that I still needed to be lifted up, and remembering what God had done earlier, and sensing my very real need, I decided to then attend yet another time of praise and intercession (for these times happen regularly), in order to join in praying for persecuted believers. For on Tuesday evenings, this is what they do regularly at this church.

While there, I sensed great anguish of soul. I felt burdened. I wanted God to somehow touch me. Within a minute or so, a man to my left suddenly showed me an encouraging quote on his phone, which spoke of God’s love, tenderness, and compassion. I was touched. Then, another man began praying for the persecuted church. He mentioned persecutions and trials going on in Africa. I was touched. In fact, I was so touched, that I began weeping. God touched me in a significant way.

After the time of praise and intercession had come to a close, I went out for coffee with the man who had shown me the encouraging word. We also went out with another man. Therefore, we discussed, prayed, and encouraged one another. It was great!

Thus, God accomplished some very important things.

What then are the lessons to be learned in all of this? We are to be sensitive to the voice of God. I think this is lesson number one!

Second, God has a will for you. Even as he willed that I attend the time of praise and intercession, he also wills to lead you in all that you do. Are you listening to him? I confess, I have sometimes resisted the voice of the Lord, and so we must be careful to have an open (spiritual) ear to the things of God.

Third, God wills to use people in your life. You may be going through some circumstances that nobody seems to have an answer to, yet God has the answer. Like many, you may even seek so-called “professional” help, only to be dismayed in the end. Could it be that God is speaking to you, and directing you to attend a Christian worship service? I dare say, God wants more people to attend Christian worship services (or Christian services of various types, including times of praise and intercession or other types).

Fourth, do not “guess” at what God is going to do (that is more along the lines of witchcraft than relationship with God). Instead, seek to obey his leading. Develop and continue to cultivate your relationship with God. Also, remember, God uses people. There are some people that God wants you to get to know, not only for your sake, but for theirs. Will you allow him to do that, and allow people some access to your life? (For example, check out some small groups at your local church, and see what God might want to do through them. You may be greatly blessed.)

I confess, I have sometimes been “too busy” for God. And what God really wants us for us to be submitted to his Spirit, so he can bless us, which will enable us to be blessing to others. You do not know, also, the words that God is going to put in your mouth, when you are with the people of God, even as I did not know the words that would come out of my own mouth, when I said, “Juan’s last name is Amigo”. Those words just flew out of my mouth (as it were), and yet ended up being used of God to bless others. How amazing is that? God is a supernatural God, and will amaze you with things like this.

Finally, how humble are you? How broken are you? And how submitted are you to God’s Spirit? Think about these things!

In summary, I have often felt like I was as strong as an ox. But the Lord has shown me that it is quite possible for me to become as weak as a newborn baby.

 

1. Intercession means praying for others.

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