God’s Rule over the Nations
To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm.
God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
It is challenge enough to try to be a good and decent human being for some of us most days. When you add to that a spirituality that pushes you to perfection, that challenge grows exponentially. Those who leave the faith tend to be those who go through terrible experiences and blame a God who doesn’t measure up to their ideas of Him, and those who feel they can never be enough for God. Christian leaders fall into these categories as well, and the number goes up significantly when we add idea of the Church to idea of God, as some of us, out of a concept of spiritual maturity or devotion, shift the blame from God to the Church. It sounds holier that way, as we rationalize that the Church is made of human beings and human beings are imperfect broken people, just like us.
The result is the same though. Burnout makes our already weakened bodies, minds, hearts, and souls harden to fragility and crack under the pressure we face. The level of performance that was not enough becomes unattainable in this new, further broken condition. Performance enhancers and means of escape become addictions we use to push or distract ourselves into a frenzy, when all we want to do is forget ourselves. We crash. We burn. Sometimes we die here in these places. All because we are never enough. It is a truth we refuse to admit, because it seems to undermine the very faith that we are trying to uphold and share.
Abraham, David, and Paul all faced this same pressure to live up to God’s standards, all struggled, and all failed from time to time. None of them would have claimed to be good enough. But they also all discovered God’s grace… a grace that goes beyond simply forgiving them for their mistakes. It is a grace that went ahead, protecting and providing for them, a grace that gave them enough to give back just exactly what God desired from them, and a grace that continued strengthening them when their own strength ran out. Grace is not like a performance enhancer like caffeine or steroids. It is an essential part of life, like water or air. We run out of each on our own, but if we continually come to God to be refilled, we can live, and move, and work, and love, the way He intended for us.
This week, we will examine a few of those church leaders who struggled with never being enough and how grace helped saved them from leaving the church and leaving God.
Where do you struggle with being “never enough”?