“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The moon tonight sits behind my left shoulder, behind the southeast corner of our home, behind the copse of native pine and rebel bamboo due east of our backyard. The moon’s face is gathered in cloud and yellowed. He looks weary.
Since I wrote that first post on weakness, I’ve been told of books on the subject saying as much and more. I’ve been told many have been thinking along the same lines for reasons myriad. And I’ve been told how others needed to hear it. They were weary in their strength and tired of their energy.
I wish I could say I was encouraged.
On one level I am. I’m glad I’ve helped others. I’m glad to have given words to what many have felt and lived. But I’ve no idea how to move forward.
Everything in American church culture fights against weakness as a way to let the power of God rest on us as individuals, as families and as churches. It’s all about position and influence and money and energy and momentum and celebrity and excellence and skill. None of those things are bad in and of themselves. But the power when all are arrayed is hard to overcome. At least in the minds of those who wield it.
Maybe the real heroes are the boring pastors we never ever hear of.
Tonight, my wife and I drove highway 11 from Springville to Trussville after my nephew’s rehearsal dinner. The moon hung low and in its light we passed many little churches. It would be easy to despise these places. And I know nothing of their pastor or the flock. But I want to assume the best. And I wonder now. I wonder if all the really heroic pastoral work is done in out of the way places trusting that God is working for his good throughout the Kingdom in littles places we would call weak.
For some reason we are impressed by the pastor who is working to simulcast a sermon based on his new book. Maybe it’s the pastor straightening up the sanctuary while simultaneously thinking through the second point of his upcoming sermon who should impress us.
And I guess I’m not encouraged because I see this as the kind of observation people will agree with but I’m not sure anyone knows what to do with it. I sure as heck don’t want there to be a “Movement” of this kind of thinking. That would be awful. Then there would be conferences and prima donna speakers and tee shirts and mugs and study guides and bracelets and journals and platinum editions of the book based on the movement based on the whatever, ad nauseum.
But it is compelling, this weakness. Like all the stories we love where little people in their weakness surprise everyone in the end because no one thought they were doing anything or could do anything. When in fact the fate of many rested on their shoulders and no one, least of all themselves, knew it. And really none will really ever know till the end and maybe the faithful work in obscurity overseeing only a few souls is really more than all the global simulcasts we can imagine.
But I want a mug!
And a “Matt Redmond Is My Homeboy” T Shirt….
I can really identify with your thoughts brother!
“It is not the glorious battlements, the painted windows, the crouching gargoyles that support a building, but the stones that lie unseen in or upon the earth. It is often those who are despised and trampled on that bear up the weight of a whole nation.” John Owen
At the end of Middlemarch, George Eliot writes of her heroine, “Her full nature, like the river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name upon the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”
This quote has been on my wall since I first read it as a teen. And to this day it deeply impacts me any time I stop to read it.
Boasting in weakness can be embarrassing because in Christianese terms we can see it as some paradoxical humblebrag. Especially on the internet. 🙂
I’ve wondered if part of the reason Christians are uncomfortable with really boasting in weakness is because when we think of weakness we really immediately think of sin and that sin must be the real weakness because everywhere else we’re supposed to be, like, overcomers right?
Have you read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson? It is a work of fiction, but beautifully paints the quiet, faithful life of a small-town minister.
One of my favorite books.
This is why we all love Frodo. If he can be the one who quietly destroys evil, so can I.