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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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29

Tuesday 7th April 2015

#TellHisStory: On Your Mark, Get Set (How to Deal with Weakness)

We sat in the dark, in padded fold-down auditorium chairs. My husband’s hand rested on my knee. The stage was lit before us, and the actor portraying Jesus stood in the spotlight.

This was our first Passion Play. Have you ever been to one? There’s something so heart-gripping when the words you’ve read countless times come to “life” on a stage. When I heard the words of Jesus that night, they fluttered off that stage, as if carried on the wings of angels.

The words were electric, a heartbeat thumping through the air of the auditorium, landing on my skin:

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus spoke those words, under the moon, in Gethsemane’s shadows after he found that His disciples had fallen asleep when they were supposed to be praying.

But that night, in the auditorium, I felt certain that Jesus spoke those words to me as well.

Those words are for any of us feeling weak in 2015. Which is pretty much most of us. Amen?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling the infirmity of my flesh lately. I am weak, despite my best efforts to stay strong. I try to study my Bible every day. I pray. I worship. I make lists of all that I’m thankful for. I walk alongside our daughters as they work out their own faith. I make myself available for God’s service in the world, going places that scare me a little. Some days, I wear out my knees in prayer for the people I love. I’m doing a lot of the “right” things. And then other days, I am getting it all wrong, and I can’t even find where I put my Bible.

But no matter how much I do — or don’t do — I’ve become more acquainted with my weakness. I’m a disciple, falling asleep at prayer. I wrestle with fears that I had assumed were dead. I doubt my abilities to take on new projects before me. I feel the sands of time slipping through my fingers as a mom, when I wonder, “How much more time do I have to teach them?” People whom we love deeply are struggling with some of the same things you struggle with: addiction, chronic pain, the threat of bankruptcy, job loss, and more. We feel powerless to help, and even our best prayers feel weak.

But these words are saving me:

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

When I had read the words before, all my focus fell on the weakness. I had missed the strength of a willing spirit. I had missed this: 

Even when the flesh fails me, God knows when the spirit is willing.

spiritwilling

God sees beyond the trembling knees. He sees us when we are at our best, and at our worst, and he looks deeper than our external efforts and crazy ambition to get it all right. His eyes see deeper, to connect with something more powerful than our personal productivity or “success.”

Do we really have any idea the treasure we hold? Do we really have any idea what we are carrying around in these fragile, weak bodies of ours?

Within you, there rests the willing spirit of God, poised like a runner in the starting blocks, on His marks and ready.

He’s waiting for the “go.”

He’s waiting for us to surrender the flesh, and let Him run free.

I have to believe that Jesus knows exactly how we feel in our frail flesh. When he spoke those words to the disciples in Gethsemane, he also experienced them in a profoundly personal way — at a level that none of us can comprehend. In his divinity, His spirit was willing. But in his humanity, how weak might his flesh have been?

The willing spirit within Christ eclipsed the weak flesh upon him.

That’s tremendously important for each of us, for two reasons:

First, Christ’s victory over the weak flesh bought for us a righteousness we could not earn on our own.

Second, it showed us that we should never underestimate the willingness of the spirit within us.

There is no infirmity of the flesh too big for the readiness of the spirit.

The same, overcoming spirit that made Christ obedient, even unto death on the cross, lives within you. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead? He’s is in the starter blocks, ready to move.

Let Him run free.

Say, “go.”

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes lives each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful!

Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Becky Hastings is our latest featured writer. She writes, “All we need to do is lift our head and find our spot. Find that one thing that keeps us centered, grounded when the world is a blur around us.” (To be considered for linkup, be sure to use our badge or a link to the linkup in your post. 🙂 )

xo

Jennifer


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  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jennifer, powerfully said….about your weakness! And I needed to hear it. It’s an important reminder, because I’m the weakest of the weak, and I will always need to rely on the Lord. It’s my prayer that somehow through my ineptitude, that when I am weak, He is strong–strong in me to do His bidding. Bless you for showing up and shining out.
    Happy Eastertide!
    Love
    Lynn

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  • What a neat way to think about it — Jesus overcame the weakness of the flesh. He felt tired, sick, and scared sometimes. The difference is, he was capable of overcoming in a way we can’t. I don’t need to focus on feeling guilty for being weak. Instead I could focus on being grateful Jesus was strong!!! Thanks for your words today, Jennifer.

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  • I beat myself up often over good intentions that never make it past being just that… and instead He knows this and offers grace and the chance to have my spirit altered within my faulty intents and He transforms… I want to just rest there in all those truths in your words above, Jennifer!
    Thanks, and Lord bless!

  • Mary

    Say “go”! Oh my that hits home big time! I am retiring from teaching in 41 days (teaching days) and the next steps are so scary but will be so amazing. It feels like stepping out on the edge of a cliff but knowing that I need not fear because God is right there. I love how you tell us that God knows when we are willing. He can sense I am ready but my brain keeps saying “I’m not ready”! Thank you for showing me that saying “go” is the way even when we are weak!

  • Kristi Woods

    Amen! These words hit the encouragement spot.–> “Within you, there rests the willing spirit of God, poised like a runner in the starting blocks, on His marks and ready.”

    Thank you, Jennifer, for speaking life today.

  • These words met my heart today, Jennifer. I just told a friend the other day that the Lord is tugging me along, but my flesh feels like a 3 year old throwing a tantrum. 🙂 I forget about the strength too and get caught and focused on the weakness. Thank you for reminding me that He is greater!

  • Karrilee Aggett

    Doesn’t it all just take your breath away? The fullness and the lengths (and depths) to which He went… and then this: “The same, overcoming spirit that made Christ obedient, even unto death on the cross, lives within you.” Just wow, right? I mean – can you even fathom? What would happen if we all began to live like we believed this? (I don’t know about you – but I am leaning in and hoping to find out!) Love you so, dear friend!

  • Christy

    Woooo Jennifer… TRUTH: that is tough, but real, raw and NEEDED. But, I say that on the day I had an echo cardio gram. It is scary to think how God might want to move through my body in unexpected ways. But this comes at just the time I need it-when I am tempted to fear, your words remind me the greatest reason for trust and HOPE! I’m glad I stopped in! Thank you ! 🙂

  • And there are days when I fall apart like wet tissues. I want to have more of Him and be better for Him…and I end up, soggy on the floor.

    • This post is on target. We all feel this way at times. I’m so glad he is strong when we are weak.

  • Just one big “Amen” for this > “The same, overcoming spirit that made Christ obedient, even unto death on the cross, lives within you.” So very grateful to have read this before I head out
    today 😉 Blessings!

  • This,”He’s waiting for us to surrender the flesh, and let Him run free.” Thank you for these freeing words Jennifer—they make me feel at rest, like taking deep breaths of peace, knowing that He lives strong within us; amidst the weakness.

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  • Yes! I’ve never quite understand the verse that says his power is made perfect in our weakness, but I trust that it’s true nonetheless. 🙂 Just yesterday I tweeted this:
    “Just as God knows our secret self-centeredness, He also knows our secret good intentions.”
    And we do have those too, praise God. {smile}
    Blessings to you today, my friend.

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  • Kamea Hope

    These words were so powerful – “The willing spirit within Christ eclipsed the weak flesh upon him.” Thank you for the reminder that we have that same spirit alive and living within us. In His strength, we can do all things!

    Many blessings,
    Kamea

  • I needed this! Thanks so much, Jennifer!

  • What an incredible truth that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and fueled His obedience lives in us! May we all say, “Go”! Blessings to you and yours, Jennifer!

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  • This refining process He brings us through, it illuminates all those cobwebs and dusty places in our hearts, doesn’t it? The glorious truth is that when we feel the limitations of our own humanity it opens the door for the miraculous manifestation of Emmanuel…God In and With Us. As I read your words, these words sprang up in my remembering.. “For such a time as this”. Jennifer… for His purpose, for His glory, for His loving of others He is raising you to places where not only are you seeing all new layers but being stripped and clothed in the power of the righteous one so you have a chance to share that with others…for such a time as this. As a bystander who gets to read the journey you share, it is an encouragement to see others get free with the message He is teaching you.
    Bless you as you continue to share. Praying for you,today.
    In Him,
    Dawn

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  • Laurie Collett

    Praise God that He entrusts His Holy Spirit to empower and indwell these frail earthly vessels! Your post really spoke to my heart today. Thanks for hosting & God bless!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    “God knows the spirit is willing.” Such good news, Jennifer! Thank you for highlighting those words of that familiar scripture. It’s often overshadowed by the focus placed on “the flesh is weak” part. My willing spirit says, “Yes, Lord. Go!”

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Here is my heart in Laurie's hands. I don't know how many books are in me but this one - the 1st - will always hold an extra-special place. twitter.com/laurieschmid18…