Any time I begin playing a game there are two things I want to know: how do you win the game? And what’s the best strategy to get there? It’s a pretty uncomplicated method when playing games and yes, the narrow focus brings out my competitive nature. Similar to a magic trick or a puzzle, I want to know how it’s done. This insight can be eye opening and gratifying. It can be like getting to be behind the scenes, seeing the full picture, or having a VIP pass. On the other side, the lack of knowing how something works often leaves me so frustrated and discouraged.
My faith at times has felt like a game where I don’t know the strategy. In times of questioning or moments of stagnation where I long to be closer to God, I find myself asking ‘how?’ repeatedly. How do I move forward? What is the next step? Is there a way to do this? The quick answer here is yes, but the strategy takes a lot longer, it looks a lot different and it is both more challenging and strengthening than I expected.
This strategy is one that starts with the premise that growing in our faith has much less to do with finding success as it does processing our failure. It’s the sort of strategy that takes a willingness to see our weaknesses and limitations so that we might seek wisdom and strength beyond our own. In Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward” he says “if there is such thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own.”
Transformation and change may not come from adding something, but instead, by letting something fall away. Paul in a letter to the church in Corinth said it this way: 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast, about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
Paul’s words certainly teach us something about God’s grace. How much more might we see God’s grace at work, receive it, and give it to others if we saw how much we are in need of this grace? I find relief in knowing that the same longing I have to be in deeper relationship with God is a longing that God has for me as well. I see God’s love and pursuit of me when I see my need for the grace that is so freely given to me. Instead of staying stagnated and frustrated, there is a way to do this: we can join God in God’s own desire for our deepening and growth.
This Sunday we start a new sermon series called “The Games We Play.” We will be looking at how we find ourselves playing games in the workplace, in interpersonal relationships, and even in our spiritual lives. These games don’t always lead us to a place where we are more Christ-like.
As we go into this series, I want to invite you to maybe take a different strategy for growing in your faith. Instead of looking at what could be added, look for something in your life that could fall away. Call it self-examining, or confession, but there is a way to find growth that is strengthening through our weaknesses. My hope and prayer for you and me this week is that God stretches us to see just how amazing grace is.
See you Sunday!