Not in My Strength
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I stared at the computer, waiting for the words to come. But nothing.
What was happening? What had once come to me so easily seemed to flee from my grasp.
This was not just writer’s block—that might last for a few hours or days and then pass. This was a struggle to even link coherent thoughts.
Depression gripped my life, making even the simplest tasks seem impossible.
In college, I was a journalist. Writing was my vocation. So, to struggle putting words together was devastating. It would be like a builder who could not nail boards together.
Yet I could recall enjoying writing since I was in middle school. In sixth grade, I was reading my essay to my class, when I looked up from my paper to find that my classmates were all turned in their chairs and listening to every word. I paused for a moment—shocked to have such a captive audience. Then my teacher instructed me to continue reading, saying, “This is good.”
I suppose when we discover something in our lives that seems like a gift, it’s easy to feel like it is ours to do with as we please—and not give God the credit or ask for His direction. It’s easy to feel like it is all about us. But after that bout with depression in college, I realized that any gift that I had would require God’s help—if I wished for it to flourish and accomplish anything that was of eternal value.
In Exodus 36:1-2, the Bible shares the names of Bezalel and Oholiab, two skilled artisans whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands.
Moses summoned them, and others, to participate in a highly significant building project.
Men like Bezalel—whose name, in Hebrew, meant “in the shadow (protection) of God”—were the earthly hands that would not only help build the Tabernacle of God, but also the sacred pieces that went inside it, like the Ark of the Covenant.
I truly cannot imagine how that would feel to carve and then cover, with gold, such a sacred shrine. Once the Ark was completed and inhabited by the Spirit of God, no one was allowed to touch it or they would die.
Perhaps if we had a commissioning to do such an obviously sacred work, we might take added care to listen to God’s every instruction. We would not wish to omit or alter one request. We would realize our efforts were important.
Yet, we all have a Great Commission to share the Gospel and make disciples, according to Matthew 28:16-20.
Still, other Scripture reminds us that it is not through our own strength and giftings that we do these things.
2 Corinthians 4:7 says,
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (NLT) .
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to recognize that You—the same God who filled that Ark—have made a way for Your Spirit to reside in us. When we accept the sacrifice of Jesus’ death upon the cross—the supreme sacrifice for all sin—You are no longer untouchable. You are ever-present in our hearts and minds! Help us to realize that when empowered by the gift of Your Holy Spirit, everything we put our hands to is a sacred work when done for You. We pray these things, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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