I celebrated my birthday last week, and as I have reflected on another year passing I know that I’ve lived an amazing life. I have lived the American Dream.
I was born to teenage parents and raised by my grandparents. Blessedly, I escaped poverty, drugs, gangs, and whatever other violence you can think of and got a football scholarship to Brigham Young University.
I married my college sweetheart in 1992, and later I was drafted to play professional football with the Indianapolis Colts where a teammate introduced me to Jesus in 1997. In 1998, my family and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to play for the Carolina Panthers.
The following year I retired from the NFL, and God launched us into an amazing opportunity for ministry. Today, I am founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a beautiful multiethnic, multigenerational local church. I’ve done things people only dream about––it’s been an amazing life.
The constant reminders
Yet, I’m constantly reminded that this earth is not the new heaven and new earth; I am not yet home.
I’m constantly reminded by the hurt, pain, and suffering people experience every day.
I’m constantly reminded by my own hurt, pain, and suffering.
I’m constantly reminded by how helpless I am when people I love suffer and all I can do is watch.
I’m constantly reminded by my need for repentance because of my inconsistencies and failures.
I’m constantly reminded by my fear.
In fact, I was reminded of it when I recently watched the popular movie Insurgent. Tris, the hero, is told by her mother, “Tris, you are so brave.” But Tris says, "I'm not brave, Mom. I pretend that I am. I want people to think that I am but I'm not. I'm really, really scared.” I feel this way sometimes. Do you?
Stronger than ever
During this “winter season” of my life, the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 have never been more beautiful and life-giving:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (ESV).
Despite all that God had done in and through Paul’s life, the thorn in his flesh was a constant reminder that this was not the new heaven and new earth. In the midst of his hardship, insults, and weaknesses, the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
So there it is. When we are constantly reminded that we are not home yet, Jesus’ grace is sufficient, and in our weakness, Jesus’ great power will rest upon us.
We are weak, yet we are stronger than we’ve ever been.
Marinate on that.