What is the most outlandish thing that you can imagine God doing in your life? How about taking your most problematic weakness and turning it into your greatest strength? Does the thought of it seem extreme? Perhaps, but the Creator of the Universe is never intimidated by the word “impossible”.
The enduring beauty of David’s encounter with Goliath is the fact that an unknown shepherd boy defeated a seasoned warrior of epic stature. While focusing on the obvious facets of the story, however, we easily can overlook some of the finer details. David used a sling and a stone to fell the giant, but what was his weapon of choice to finish the job? Goliath’s own sword. In other words, the primary weapon with which the force of evil intended to destroy David became the very tool by which evil was vanquished.
A Son of Thunder Becomes the Apostle of Love
While this all seems well and good in reference to an ancient battle that took place over 3,000 years ago, can we really make such an application to our own lives? I think we can. If I were to ask which of Christ’s original 12 disciples was most defined by love, John would be the obvious answer. The epistle of 1 John stands as one of the most poignant letters of love in the Bible; its five short chapters contain enough strength and insight to challenge even the most devoted Christian.
But it was John and his brother James to whom Jesus gave the nickname “Boanerges”—meaning “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). In all likelihood the title was the result of their intense disposition.
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, . Luke 9:51-56a (NASB).
The Son of Thunder became the Apostle of Love. Is there anything in this world that can show the handiwork of God more clearly revealed? I don’t think so. And while we have a tendency to place someone like John on a spiritual pedestal, God’s intention was entirely different. The Sovereign King of Glory took a group of ordinary men and transformed them into a powerful force for change. The glory lies not in the men themselves, but in the God who made it all happen.
What is your greatest life-long struggle? What one sin or shortcoming feels impossible to overcome? Is it possible that God has engineered the circumstances of your life so that you have no choice but to deal with this issue? Further still, is it possible that He has both the plan and the means to transform this area of your life into one of your greatest strengths? Absolutely!
The Humble Road Leads to Victory
A brief survey of human history will reveal that one fatal flaw in human nature stands out above all others: our quest for self-exaltation. The path to change, then, is marked by humble faith. We begin by believing that God is able to transform our hearts even at the point of our greatest struggle. We then abide in His transformational grace by choosing to humble ourselves and admitting our need to God (and to other people whom we can trust).
How I wish that such a transformation were automatic—that one would need only to repeat a sincere prayer and be done with it. Such is not the case; the transforming work of God is often quite rigorous, thus requiring considerable courage. In spite of the difficulty, however, God’s remaking of a human life is eternally glorious.
Taking our most problematic weaknesses and turning them into our greatest strengths is the amazing thing that God wants to do in us. Are we willing?