But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
I have a confession to make. I’m a scaredey cat. No, really. I’ve let fear run my life for many of my near 40 years. I’ve generally been the kind of guy who plans everything out and takes the most cautious path possible. When I haven’t been cautious, I’ve been burned badly because of it. Trust me. The most rash thing I’ve ever done was 11 years ago when I quit my job, packed a couple of bags, and left my family and friends behind to move to Florida and get married.
That little experiment failed, miserably. I haven’t been able to forget the day that my wife said she wanted a divorce. It nearly destroyed me. Why? Because the worst fear I have is the fear of rejection. That was pretty much the ultimate rejection. The woman who took a vow till “death do we part” ended up being like, “nah, never mind.” Honestly, I look back at that and I’m not sure how I made it through. I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with an amazing family behind me and a whole lot of God’s love and grace.
I’ve always been like that though, even from my younger days. I was the kid who was absolutely petrified of being picked last for anything. More than a few times growing up I had to hear the phrase “well, I guess we get Brandon.” Ouch. The only time anybody actually wanted me in their group was if it was an ensemble assignment in choir, because music was the one thing this awkward dude was good at.
I also remember the first time I sheepishly got up the nerve to ask a girl to a dance. She said she would love to, but since I wasn’t LDS (Mormon) her parents wouldn’t allow it. Interestingly enough, that really wasn’t a rejection, but I interpreted it as such. It ended up being too bad, because nobody else asked her, and we both ended up sitting at home.
Two weekends ago I attended a retreat, and one of the things we were asked to do was to confess our biggest weakness. It was easy for me. Fear, fear of rejection came to mind immediately. We did an exercise where we committed these things to God. I pulled a piece of bread off a loaf, stood in front of what can only be described as an old, rugged cross, and named my weakness out loud.
“FEAR OF REJECTION.”
Then I placed the piece of bread in a basket at the foot of the Cross.
Now this is where I’m supposed to say that God magically took my fear of rejection away and emboldened me, right?
Well, not so fast, my friend. This last weekend a relatively minor social interaction (that again wasn’t even really a rejection) ended up dredging up those same old feelings. I was at a bit of a loss. I prayed again, half heartedly, for God to help fix this, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Because guess what, God reveals himself and his power in my weakness. I read that in my devotional yesterday. Now, I’ve read that scripture lord knows how many times, but yesterday the author the devotional asked me to, again, name my biggest weakness. Again, this was easy. However, instead of asking God to get rid of it, he asked how God could, or perhaps already has, revealed his power through my weakness.
So I thought about it, and I realized something.
Last week a person in one of our Adult Sunday School classes, who I went to high school with, commented to my father that she really enjoyed hearing me teach and preach. She said it kind of blew her mind because I was always so quiet and reserved in high school.
And then other things started to come to mind:
The lay director of my retreat telling me what an awesome job I did writing and performing in an impromptu skit.
People from my church telling me how they can’t wait for me to preach again because it’s always so powerful.
One church member telling me the reason she stayed was because of a sermon she heard me preach.
Getting called to preach at a church who didn’t know me at all and having them like me so much that they invited me back.
Guess what? Something has happened. Despite my biggest fears and my biggest weakness, God has used me. Any power that comes through when I preach or teach a class is his, not mine.
Not only am I not being rejected, I’m being accepted. God took me, this little quivering mass of fear and caution, and made a preacher out of me, and a teacher too. I don’t know how he did it, but let me tell you, it proves just how awesome his POWER is. I know that I’m not done with my fear of rejection. I know I’ll get hurt again, but I hope that next time that happens I’ll remember this lesson and look to Him for grace and strength.
And that little kid who was afraid of being picked last? Well God picked me for his team, and He always picks the last ones first!