Written by: Jen Barth
Whether you find yourself in school doing the high school or college grind, or a solo mama trying to be everything to your babies or maybe you are the boss lady that leads people in the workplace or possibly you are waiting for prince charming and making the most of the freedom in the single season. Let’s get even more real, maybe you are recovering from addiction, doing time in prison or struggling to even find a place to call home. Whatever season of life you are in, you have something to offer the world. It may feel so far fetched for you right now, but in you is the glory of God. The wisdom of God, the healing of God and the hope that we are never alone. In short, God in you is what the world needs - not the perfect, fixed up, have it all together you, but the you that you are right now.
A few months back was a marker day for me. I was headed to a bible study that I was leading and was feeling the weight of failure. I had woken up exhausted because I had wrestled with weird dreams, a stiff neck and anxiety all night - I blame covid?! Oh, geez. This particular morning I was rude to my husband, and I didn’t feel like I had slowed down enough to be intentional with my kids before we rushed them off to school. So I sat in my car headed to the venue where I was supposed to lead a bible study and praying, and I struggled with stupid shame. Why was I even doing this Bible study? Clearly I’m not at a maturity level that I should be leading? I know, it may sound so ridiculous and small, but that day it felt big--bag over my head B-I-G. I have had serious struggles with addiction, abuse recovery, and many other things, but in this season by God's grace my character is what I’m mostly working on. It’s like one day you feel like you can conquer the world and the next day you wonder why God even thought you were capable of anything?!
As I digressed with the Lord on my drive, He didn’t encourage me at all like I expected. Nor did He tell me, you can do this or say look at all you’ve done. God in His great wisdom spoke these simple words to my aching heart. Can you be a good conduit? I sat in my car with tears filling my eyes. I knew I had exchanged grace for perfection and works. I took my sucky attitude one morning and decided He should not have chosen me to lead, as if I could do God’s work without him anyway. He could have said a million lovely encouraging things to lift my spirit, but instead He gave me that pearl of wisdom.
We will never be enough, have all the answers or act all the right ways, but He will. He does not have bad days, he is not struggling with addiction or immoral behavior. God is not freaked out or burned out, nor is He full of anxiety. He is always on his “A” game, always burning with love for people. So I don’t have to be everything, we can have a bad and still be used by our creator. We just have to be an open conduit for his use.
My strength is not in works but in the art of being deeply steeped in grace. I was never meant to be the world's source, nor were you. He was and is the only source of strength and healing. This word, “works”, to some of us might feel like our duty or our claim to real faith, but unless the Lord builds it, it truly is in vain. We must die to works so He can live through us.
That morning was one of the greatest encounters with God our group had ever experienced. It was none of me and all of him. He was our aim, our focus and our complete source. He came in with overwhelming love, and left us feeling peace that only he can bring. He is looking for portals that will allow him to bring His hope, healing and rescue to a world that needs it deeply. It is not in striving, it’s in knowing that He is enough for you. There is only one super hero, it’s Jesus.
To this very end is the only reason we can offer hope and give love at the shelters, preach to the church, raise our children, win over addiction, and do it all while our performance is, well...less than ideal sometimes. The world is looking for Jesus, and real people who love God. The beautiful human creation, dependent on a supernatural power to bring heaven to earth. Flawed, loving, mistake making, generous, kind, emotional and all over the board at times, regular people who can still share Jesus and give hope to the world. We hold to the standard of Jesus, but we get there by grace not by works. As we grow, I pray our actions, thoughts, and words come more in line with his everyday - but I will not wait to share the HOPE of the world until I have arrived at earthly perfection. And spoiler alert - it won’t ever happen. Jesus is the perfect hope for the world and He chooses to live inside you.
As you go about your day and you begin to hear the mantra of, “I’m not enough”. Steady your gaze on Him, smile, and say “yep, you're right, I am so not enough”, but God is having a great day and fully ready to use me! If we relish in the great love God is, works die, intimacy grows and reliance on Him as the source becomes our foundation. Christ in you is the hope for the world. Yes, in you is the hope for the whole world-even with your frizzy top knot and yoga pants, that you slept in and then rocked the next day. Your life, your light, is a grace gift that God gave you when you said yes to giving Jesus your heart. We don’t have to feel qualified to carry this hope, He is qualified and He lives in you.
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me. - Colossians 1:26-29 MSG