I write to you after having spent probably 36 of the past 48 hours in bed, trying to sleep off this ghastly fever and headache I woke up with as of yesterday morning.
Of those 12 awake hours, most of it was spent finishing Atul Gawande’s “Complications” while curled up under the covers (and feeling grateful that at least I don’t have a lethal flesh-eating disease), or watching Season 7 episodes of Friends.
Once the heavy tiredness lifted enough for me to feel well enough to get changed and face the world, I immediately seized the chance (before it passed) to venture out to the coffeeshop two streets down from my house.
I croaked out an order for a coffee (whoa I can still make sounds with my throat!) and settled into a sun-streaked window-seat, from which I now write.
For someone who thrives on a full schedule, this weekend came like a rude, halting brake (what do you mean I can’t just get out of bed and accomplish the things I have set out to do?)
For the first time in a long time, I was forced to stop my doing, clear out my schedule and climb back into bed with ginger honey tea.
I was supposed to lead worship today; I couldn’t even make it to service, much less sing or lead.
You know, sometimes we can trick ourselves to believe that we are the ones in control.
Then, out of nowhere, we wind up in bed sick, brought to the humbling reality that we don’t have as much control as we thought we had.
We are, but mortal.
Reading “Unseen” by Sara Hagerty this morning, she describes her initial resentment towards “unproductive Sabbaths”:
It sounds like bliss, but around 2:00p.m. every Saturday, that same dreaded feeling creeps into my chest. The respite of unplanned hours wears off, and I move into the empty space of the afternoon.
I start to wonder, who am I with all this time and nothing accomplished with it? Who am I without my accomplishments? Who am I without my to-do list?
But the empty feeling that persisted on the days when life unproductively ‘stopped’ made me vulnerable and eventually opened a new side of me to God, the side that was safely inviting me to do more than just obey, but to surrender.
Now I say, “Saturdays are when life happens in our home.”
Saturdays are when I am less busy, more weak.
Less accomplished, more present.
Saturdays are when I fall a little more in love with God.
Saturdays are a step toward a deeper surrender.
Less busy, more weak. Less accomplished, more present.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Incarnation. Why it’s not just true that God became man in the person of Jesus, but why it matters to my faith, the way I relate to God, the way I interact with people, the way I view the world.
In one of the Youtube videos my Muslim friend sent me entitled “The Bible says Jesus is not God”, it argues that Jesus was hungry (Mark 11:12), and tired (John 4:6), but because God does not lack in anything, Jesus cannot be God.
And it is extremely counter-intuitive: that an all-powerful God could, or would, become weak.
Fundamentally, I think the tension arises from our understanding of weakness as bad and undesired. And that as the source of all strength and goodness, God should not show any sign of weakness.
But, that is exactly what we find in the Christian tradition.
God willingly takes on weakness….emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
In mystery that escapes me, weakness is God’s choice to communicate Himself to the world.
And from that weakness, power is birthed.
For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
2 Corinthians 13:4
So, the Incarnation reminds me that weakness is not to be shunned, but embraced.
Weakness is God’s choice of means to humble and transform me.
I still don’t like being stuck in bed.
And I’d better be well by tomorrow, because I have to collect enough results to cobble together a poster to bring to the conference I’m attending in a week.
Although ironically, the only thing I can do to ensure that happens is drink more ginger honey tea and sleep (can you ever sleep too much??).
But, my prayer is that in the white space, in the dead time, in the unproductivity, I am being slowly, painstakingly transformed. As I learn a deeper way of rest and surrender.
As I begin to know Him, not just in the power of His resurrection but also in the fellowship of His sufferings, and weakness.
When do you feel the weakest? How do you feel during those times of weakness? Resentful? Frustrated?
What does a deeper rest and surrender during times of weakness look like for you?
Do you like ginger honey tea? 😀
Now, for what I’m listening to this morning: an acoustic Bethel worship set from Jan of this year 🙂 Enjoy!