I use this verse a lot. I quote it to others when they need encouragement to accomplish something and I quote it to myself more and more often these days. This week, God showed me something else, a little deeper, about this verse. He said to me:
You can do nothing apart from me. Remember that for life - don't take it for granted. Everything you do is because I equip you and empower you... breathing, thinking, walking, talking, working, cooking, cleaning, driving, shopping, doing laundry. Ask for my help daily - on EVERY task and endeavor. You can't succeed without me.We quote Philippians 4:13 when something big is going on or we feel we're up against tough odds. But do we realize that everything we do is because he enables us? Yes, we can do all things through Christ, but we can do NOTHING without the strength Christ gives.
Over the last year I have learned to pray and ask for help in many of my life activities. Every morning I pray for the strength to accomplish my daily tasks and I list them out specifically. It makes me do two things: 1) turn it all over to God and rest in His peace when I am unable to accomplish something and 2) prioritize what really HAS to be done versus things that I would LIKE to get done. I realize more and more that most of my to-do list contains things I'd like to get done versus things I have to get done.
I pray for help before I go out anywhere. What healthy, on-the-go person would ever stop and ask God to give her the ability to ride in the car and sit and watch her 6 year-old's flag football game for an hour? What healthy, on-the-go person would ever stop and ask God to get her through a night of trick-or-treating with her 6-year-old twins because her husband was out of town (thanks to my Mom for helping)? What healthy, on-the-go person would ever stop and ask God to get her through a 30 minute aerobic walk in the neighborhood? A year ago, not this healthy, on-the-go person, that's for sure.
I did ask for God's help on those exact outings this week. I know that apart from his help and his will I cannot do those things. If you are up and healthy and going strong, THANK GOD for that ability and ask for his help to keep you healthy to do those things. If you are not able to accomplish your goals each day start asking God for help in every area. On Sunday our pastor, Bill, said that God knows how big our "small things" are... meaning nothing is too mundane or simple to bring before God. I am reading Judges now. God truly loved the Israelites, His Chosen People, just as he loves us today. Time and time again the Israelites fell short of God's best - they rebelled, they forgot him, they lived only for selfish gain. But every time they cried out for God to save them, He did. He cares about every aspect of our lives.
I will never understand why some people get sick or suffer. Over the past 2 weeks I've added several people to my prayer list because of a new diagnosis or because of a recurring chronic condition. It makes my heart heavy to know that good people are suffering. God is the only one who can truly provide comfort that will last and heal. I believe that part of our life journey and a large part of suffering is to call us intimately closer to Him. When life as we know it screeches to a halt and all that we know is turned upside down we then realize that apart from him we can do nothing. There are so many physical conditions that afflict people that they have absolutely no control over. Losing control over the physical well-being of your own body is a scary experience. If it's never happened to you, you can't understand the frustration and fear that it causes. I can't describe it to you; I've often envisioned myself in a straight jacket, held captive by the vessel that God gave me. The only answer, the only way to make sense, the only peace is to rest and know that only God can empower us to get through every moment of every day.
I love that I'm learning the practice of asking him for help and then thanking him for that help on an ongoing basis each day. It keeps the lines of communication open and the more I do it, the more I realize that I have to do it.
Remember that we can do all things through Christ's strength and without his strength, we can do NOTHING!
On another note, this week marks our 10th year anniversary living in Monroe. I cannot believe it. It's just another reminder of God's sovereignty. When I tell you I arrived 10 years ago kicking and screaming that's probably the understatement of the century. I was NOT HAPPY. I was mad at God, mad at Jonathan and mad at anyone else who even looked at me. I thought I had moved to red-neck hell on earth. (I can say that now because I have "roots" here and it's my home). I assumed everyone I met was uneducated and not worthy of my friendship. It's amazing how God uses the most treacherous, low-points in life to do His greatest work. I am thankful beyond measure to be in this tight-knit community where I have more friends and family to help in ways I could never have imagined. I can say with certainty I could not have endured the last year of infirmity if we were still living in the rat-race of West Palm Beach.
An excerpt from my journal from 10 years ago - 12/04/02:
I struggle with the thoughts that my loving God and Savior is in control yet I still despise everything about this place. I feel guilty that I'm not skipping and jumping with joy and resting every minute in the comfort that God is planning every minute of my life.
Boy, was He ever!
I've been on Zoloft for 17 or so days now. I think that I'm going to be able to tolerate the dosage that I'm on. PRAISE GOD!!! I was so worried that I would "waste" weeks trying different medicines until I found the right one (although I know that none of my down time is wasted time in God's eyes). As of now I'm not feeling any side affects from it. I have had some really dizzy days this week but I was plagued by migraine on top of everything and it seems the migraine medicine I take compounds the dizziness now that I'm on Zoloft (so thankful I asked my pharmacist why I got so dizzy this week). Satan is still trying to lie and tell me that it's not going to work. I think the fact that I know there's a cure and I'm not already feeling great feeds my anxious thoughts. Having to wait to see results allows seeds of doubt to be planted. Jonathan was also gone for 8 days this week and that's always nerve-wracking. He was gone this week last year so when I had my first vertigo attack at 6am on November 3rd, 2011 I was home alone with the kids (mom came right away when I called her though). I couldn't help but remember that dreadful day on the anniversary of it this year. I'm so thankful for my mom who came every day this week and helped with the kids; she even spent the night on Halloween so she could trick-or-treat with us!