On my “good” days, or when I’m in the public eye, or composed enough to give you the edited version of my life, I hear myself talking like a champion: “No pain, Pres. You are feeling no pain. You are victorious, a noble warrior.” But at other times, usually in quieter, darker moments, when I look in the mirror of myself and see my bloody, swollen eyes, I wonder how much I have left. What is the status of my reserve? How much strength do I really have? And more importantly, although I rarely give the question a voice: Is the strength I have left enough?
In addition to the comfort and courage generated through your prayers, I have returned time and again to Ephesians 6:10 and the verses following. This is Paul’s amazing passage on spiritual warfare. And not surprisingly, it begins with a profound declaration: “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
As I contemplate this—also in my quieter moments, and often dark times—I note that the Scriptures do not exhort me to become strong or tap into my strength. Nothing seems to imply that I should assess the level of my reserves in order to project victory. The verse simply makes a declaration that I must adopt: Pres, be strong in your Father’s mighty strength.
Taking inventory of my strength as a person tempts me with two alternatives.
On the one hand, if I conclude I have the world on a string and life by the throat, I am tempted to be proud of my prowess, savvy, and astute giftedness. However, if the opposite appears to be the case, and I’m scrambling to keep my nose above water, I am tempted to believe I am beaten and weak, that the world has won, and that while God may win the war He has lost the battle in my life.
Such is the deceptive nature of evaluating the eventual outcome based upon personal strength. We are strong, not because of our strength, but our Father’s.
Next, the source of strength.