Things weren’t looking good. It was 10pm and I only had until midnight to come up with what I wanted to say. I had been working on the piece for a few days, but I still only had a skeleton of an idea and the words were not coming. Like choppy waters, words clashed against one another and nothing flowed. Time was drawing to a close and I was still trying to craft a piece of writing that resembled something that anyone would want to read. Writer’s block was like a thick haze in the room and I had nothing! Desperate to complete my writing on time, I slapped together any words that came to mind and hoped the readers would be able to see through my tattered scraps of thought…patchwork poorly designed. It was finally midnight when I realized that I truly needed more time. I turned in what I had, but felt a sense of unrest submitting something that was not up to par, and not a true reflection of what I wanted to articulate. I was trying to write in my own strength, trying to force an idea to work and it just wasn’t working.
In this instance it was a piece of writing I was trying to complete, but I can insert any task in its place that I’ve ever tried to complete without truly seeking the Lord, and the story would sound much the same. When we are hustling and striving, pulling hard on bootstraps, leaving God out of the equation, we will always come up short. That night after submitting my writing piece, I finally surrendered to the Lord and asked for Him to give me the words to say. I don’t know why I hadn’t submitted to Him earlier. Nevertheless, I went to sleep that night and when I woke up, the idea for the piece was in my mind. When I sat down to revise, the words flowed out of me and it was easy. It became easy because I was no longer operating out of my own strength, but allowing the Holy Spirit to lead.
“…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:7-12, NIV
This scripture from 2 Corinthians first came alive to me when I was in college. I was dating this guy I knew wasn’t right for me, but at the same time I didn’t have the strength to break up with him. While I was struggling with what to do about this relationship, a friend shared this Scripture with me. It was like a light shined down on me in my dorm room, and in that moment everything became clear. I knew that I needed to break up with this boyfriend then and there! After reading about God’s grace being sufficient for me, and His power being made perfect in my weakness I knew God would empower me to end this relationship even if it was hard to do. When I stopped relying on myself, and placed my trust in the Lord, His power was revealed in my life.
In hindsight, this time in my life seems so melodramatic and quite silly, especially now that I know the amazing husband and family God had in store for me. But at the time it felt very serious and life changing. I didn’t know what awaited me around the corner, but I knew God’s grace was enough for me after reading it in that Scripture my friend shared with me. I trusted that even if the breakup hurt, that I wasn’t to walk that painful road alone. I trusted that God’s grace would carry me even in my pain—especially in my weakness. I had seen Him carry me before, but reading that Scripture with new eyes was a reminder to me of His faithfulness.
Ultimately, that college relationship, just like the piece of writing, was something I tried to patch together in my own power. These were my own ideas I was trying to make beautiful, but they weren’t what God had for me. In both scenarios God was teaching me more about surrendering to His plan. However, surrendering, even to God, can be terrifying. It is scary to let go of control and trust that God’s plan is best. But time and time again when I move aside and allow God to work, it’s no longer patchwork I see, but the beautiful tapestry of His plan and love unfurled before my eyes.
By: Erica Johnson