The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him
-Moses’ Song in Exodus 15:2
“Not of my own doing.” It popped into my head like a lightbulb had brightened a dark room. Strength is a gift. Not the muscle strength that I work on as I hold a plank pose in yoga, although that was the context in which this insight appeared. The strength of heart to keep at it each day is a gift I tap into. It’s not of my own doing. A friend has an injury that has changed her summer plans. She is going to have to let go of what she had in mind and instead rest.
We had been talking about how hard it is to “let go and let God”. It easily slips from my lips and in practice take some intention and strength. The injury has many unknowns-in terms of timelines and long term affects. Waiting. It takes strength. Needing other people to do things for you and in your place- takes strength. Gritting her teeth, exerting her energy to make all the plans, sort out all the details and try to come up with strategies for unknown future outcomes is like struggling in deep water.
Floating. Surrender. Allowing for God to do for her what she cannot do for herself isn’t her style or mine. She is strong, focused, organized, hard-working. “Not of my own doing.” Awhile ago I receive a great gift from a therapist. In the midst of a time of weariness, confusion, and despair she confronted me. Now at first, this didn’t seem like a gift. The confrontation wasn’t loud or harsh. It was direct and to the point.
“If all of the love, energy and effort come from you —-the source is limited.” Bingo! The source needs to be the Source. The strength is the Lord’s. Surrender is the path to freedom. To get to learn again, that it is by asking for the help that comes from the Lord that I get to tap into the strength that is unlimited.
Psalm 118 has been a go to psalm for me for rejoicing —it also has some words to remind us that the Lord is our strength and our salvation. For over a decade I have gotten a front row seat to see how those who are willing to receive, to lean in to their inability and even surrender -show a strength that is deep and wide. So, in a week of travel, vacation, family & flights, traffic & delays I am breathing in the strength that comes from the Lord and letting go of my expectations that cut off my connection with God when I attempt to be the one “ large and in charge”. Check out Psalm 118 if you would like some words to walk with you. This week may you tap into the strength that is a gift and not of your own doing.
A Song of Victory
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they blazed[a] like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard,[b] so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; 16 the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. 18 The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.[c] 25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.[d] We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.[e]
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.