Stumbling disciple

Sleeplessness picked at my brain and tickled my body last night until I finally gave in and retreated to the recliner and my old journals. Stretching back over forty years, these journals have become my counsellors, my instructors and often my accusers. They remind me that an honest working title for my life thus far would be, “Stumbling Disciple.” I’ve vacillated from mountain heights of glory and inspiration, to lonely valleys of failure and despair; from exotic places and experiences of God’s faithfulness, right down into hopelessness and crushing doubt. I’m amazed at the glorious, giddy truths the Holy Spirit has given me, and appalled at the scope of what I’ve already forgotten. These writings keep my life in perspective.

Last night I noticed that under the steady passing of years, one cadence seems to drone like a soundtrack to my life: “Not enough!”: Not enough prayer; not enough worship; not enough accomplishment; not enough practicing, writing, compassion, exercise, serving, witnessing, faithfulness or creativity. The nagging voice of “not enough” seems to greet me in the morning and chatter on until I fall asleep at night.

Whether friend or foe I’m not certain, since it both condemns me and pushes me forward into action. But this I know: today my sufficiency is in Jesus alone. I am clearly and without question, inadequate without Him. I’m only a stumbling disciple trying to get it right.  Yet He has told me, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for (my) power is perfected in (your) weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Today I’m choosing to boast in God and to rest in the adequacy of His promise: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” And my soul says “Hallelujah!”

19 thoughts on “Stumbling disciple”

  1. Not enough? In whose eyes? Self? Or Holy Spirit? When you recognize and acknowledge the answers to those questions, Don, you’ll see things a bit differently, I suspect. ❤

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    1. Hey Bette! Thanks for always challenging me. I think I understand what you’re saying: that in the eyes of the Holy Spirit I am enough. I am who God created me to be, and I cannot be more than that no matter what I do. If that’s what you’re saying, I’m in full agreement. Certainly the accusation of “not enough” comes from my self and not the Holy Spirit. But when Jesus says “Apart from me you can do nothing”, isn’t that a direction towards grace in order that we can be everything we are created to be in union with Him?

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      1. Let’s back up a moment, Don – your Not Enough list seemed to consist of “doing,” i.e. your work activities, not your identity. But aren’t you doing what the Holy Spirit wishes you to do? Going where he wishes you to go? Taking him where he wants to go, that is. Aren’t you cooperating with him, letting him plan your agenda, your itinerary, use your brains, hands, feet and voice as he wishes? That Not Enough whisper isn’t coming from the voice of the Master, drown it out! (Unless you’ve been living in disobedience all these years, which I do not believe for one moment.) ❤

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  2. You are MORE THAN ENOUGH!
    Thank you for sharing your heart so openly.
    The Lord wants you to know, “You are precious in My sight, and honored, and I love you.”

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  3. Like many here, your statement about not being enough caught my attention. Immediately, I began remembering the old proverb about the four things that never say, “Enough!” Proverbs 30:15&16. My first inclination is to consider these things as demanding and evil. In that context, they are like the voice that tells were are not performing well enough and are not pleasing to God, and are, thus, not worthy to be called His child. Nevertheless, let us look from another perspective. Does not the gravel call out for more death? Does not the womb hope to be filled? Does not the land seek to quench its thirst? Does not the fire desire more fuel to burn brighter? Are Christians not to die to our selves, be filled with the Spirit, drink of the living waters, and burn brightly in this darkened and darkening world? Can I say to myself that I have died enough, been filled enough, drank enough, or burn brightly enough? I think not. Thus, I can see your tension between condemnation and motivation (although Bette’s point about “doing” is spot on). A friend of mine put it this way, “We are human beings, not human doings.”

    The fact that we are not enough, however, is no excuse for not be satisfied with who God has made us to be. Don, as you say His grace is sufficient, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As I have come more and more to identify as the son of God that I am, I increasingly find His is sufficient, living is easier, and my burdens are lighter. As this stumbling disciple is increasingly aware that he is loved, accepted, and included by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he is increasingly satisfied in his insufficiency, more dependent on God’s power, and freer to be his true self. This true self that was dressing for work last week and heard something wonderful as his wife was emptying the dishwasher. As I listened to clinking of plates and glasses, and the clanking of silverware into the draw, I heard the still small voice saying, “This is the sound of my love for you.” His love is everywhere, even the smallest things. We cannot escape it; we can only learn to recognize it.

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    1. So well said, David. Thank you. This post is about my journey towards grace. Over the years I have camped out at grace, only to be lured away and returned over and over again. Last night I was so aware of my shortcomings and my failures. But as the sun came up I was drawn back into the rest of God’s love. What a powerful statement you have made, “As this stumbling disciple is increasingly aware that he is loved, accepted, and included by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he is increasingly satisfied in his insufficiency, more dependent on God’s power, and freer to be his true self.” That’s what I’m talking about. Blessings to you, my friend!

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      1. Yours is a familiar story. I believe one of the most powerful acts we can do as stumbling disciples is admit we get lured away. The enemy would prefer that we keep our short comings hidden so that he can build a stronghold there. In addition, by failing to bring our own sin into the light, we not only deprive ourselves of all God has for us, but our false piety is clearly seen by the the world as the hypocrisy that it is.

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  4. Great post. Immediately at paragraph 2, my mind flashed back to the song from The Greatest Showman, “Never Enough” … (Google it if you’re not familiar) … my take away is that without HIM it will never be enough. BUT with HIM, our daily strivings for more could possibly identify exactly how deep our love for HIM truly is. ~ Just a peaceful passing thought about your blog.

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    1. Richard! Thanks for checking in and for reminding us of “Never Enough”!

      “Never enough
      Never enough
      Never enough
      For me
      ….Towers of gold are still too little
      These hands could hold the world but it’ll
      Never be enough.”

      Because we were made for grace and for someone else. Thanks, my friend! It’s always good to hear from you!

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  5. Don, thanks for your honesty and for putting into words what many (most?) of us experience and think in various seasons of lives (or on any given day). The key is coming back to the central truth, as you have said, that we are sufficient in who we are, and His grace is sufficient for all He calls us to do. As we are reminded of who we are in Christ and that our identity is in Him, we realize God isn’t even asking the questions we think He might be asking (Are you praying enough? Are you giving enough? Are you loving enough?) Instead, He draws us to Him and as we know our belovedness, our desires to pray, give, and serve increase. Of course the enemy of our souls wants us to think otherwise, but that voice grows dim in His presence. Nonetheless, it’s easy to let the questions about “enough” creep into our thinking. Enough already!

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    1. Thanks, Barb, for that reminder: God isn’t asking the same questions we’re asking. Your encouragement always hits the mark. I miss your gift of insight, but I’m ever grateful we still get to connect with snatches of inspiration.

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