The Power of Vulnerability
Giving of yourself is an innate desire that our entire being fights against. After all, we were created to be givers (made in God’s image) but something gets in the way of that grace. You guessed it… our own sinful nature.
On one side of our architecture is God’s image and on the other, our humanity. Given that we live in this current world, the one made for humans, it’s a good thing we have some humanity about us. But though it works for the short term, during our journey in this life, it’s not what we were ultimately created for.
Someday we’ll find ourselves in heaven serving God, and loving it because sin will not be there to get in the way of our natural-born identity. And since we were made to serve, it’ll be great. But for now, serving, giving, and sacrifice all seem like counter-intuitive disciplines that yield nothing but pain and heartache.
As a result of this struggle, we need to focus on the connection that exists between our humanity and God because we need Him. He’s our fulfillment, our hope, our Creator, our everything. And the moment we were redeemed, we were brought into God’s family and the benefit of being in that family doesn’t start in heaven, it starts the moment we are “born” again.
So there’s got to be a way to know that He’s there, every time, every day, every step of the way.
And maybe your immediate reaction to such a statement is “I know He’s with me, He said He would be with me ‘til the end of time.” And while I’m with you on that, it’s still critical for us to get to know how the Lord works in our lives and what it takes to get Him more involved in order to maintain our peace and comfort of His Spirit. So, what if we had a means by which to grow our faith and knowledge of Him, in such a way that He occupied more of our lives and we were more endowed in His strength? Would it be worth the price, would it be worth the effort?
We hear about His riches but so few times have we experienced them at the level He can provide. We know very little about what He can do, because we never make enough room for Him to occupy our lives and in so doing, we limit the Holy One of Israel. But with what He’s taught us in His Word, we can know Him in ways only He can supply.
Let’s get started.
What is the one word that connects us to Him and His grace? Is it salvation? Is it mercy? Maybe it’s Love or Forgiveness. All of those are applicable, for sure, but I actually have a different word I want to focus upon, and it’s the word... Vulnerable.
What is vulnerability? Vulnerability is this intangible space that connects God to men wherever they are. It’s the perfection of imperfection, distilled in a mind, body, soul and spirit. It’s the hallmark of God present in the life of a man. It’s where man ends and God begins. It’s the condition of the heart necessary to make room for God’s Spirit to flourish.
Ever notice how God seems to show up just at the right time? How He seems to hang out til just the last moment, and then like a stud on a steed, He rides in to save the day.
If we’re honest with ourselves, that’s how it feels sometimes when He waits so long to break through. When He does show up you have to admit it’s always great. He always pulls through and then some.
But why does He wait and why does He make us sweat it out? The answer is simply because man has to get to the end of his resources before God can apply His, and it’s all wrapped up in this idea of vulnerability. It’s your vulnerability that makes a place for God to exist in this earthly realm but vulnerability is not always present with you because your human nature does everything in its power to avoid it. It doesn’t sit well with us because we lack trust and faith in God. Like Adam and Eve trying to hide their vulnerability after they sinned. The Bible says they realized they were naked. May I suggest they realized for the first time that they were vulnerable.
It’s within this vulnerability that your humanity is absent. Every fortitude you’ve built up, every wall and fallback device or system you’ve fabricated to bring stability to your world has been removed and you are standing there stark naked completely insecure. If it were to be graphically represented, it could be pictured like a void, a space between heaven and earth that’s not occupied but is wholly embodied by you.
Vulnerability can be most clearly represented by considering its place in a story. In story is where we find the secret to the power of vulnerability, as well as the core reasoning for why the prescription for achieving this state of vulnerability is to give ourselves away.
Let’s consider how a story is crafted, in an effort to to see the power of vulnerability and correlate it to how God works in our spirit through this magnificent device.
Typical stories follow a schema, a process that makes them work. In their simplest form, stories are centered around the main character and that character’s vulnerability. But the character doesn’t show up vulnerable. They have to get there.
So in the beginning of the story we have a conflict. Something that works on wearing the character down, defeating them, leaving them helpless and hopeless. Call it involuntary giving, though often the main character is giving voluntarily and when they are, it's made up of them trying everything in their own power to fight the conflict. The purpose of conflict in a story can be seen as a chipping away at the character’s existing frame of mind to bring them to a place of seeming defeat, or vulnerability.
As they move towards this place of vulnerability, we buy into their plight and press in, our emotions become tied directly to it as we meld into one with their story.
Then the story hits a point called the “enciting incident,” when he/ she is totally vulnerable with nowhere to turn and something specific happens to finally cause them to embrace the external help that’s always been there, always has been available to them, but never before accepted. And in this place of vulnerability they are suddenly ready, willing, and capable of accepting this external help.
The better the writer or movie director is able to convey their sense of vulnerability, the more we are hooked into the story because innately we know that any shred, vapor, or even the scent of self-reliance in that character, would be a seed for pushing out this help once things started to progress and our suspended reality would deflate and the story would become oh too real and identifiable with our own lives. The reality is, the very definition of vulnerability demands a realization of complete surrender.
In a story this external help may come from God, an alien, or oftentimes some inner strength they have refused to utilize.
When that inciting incident takes place, the story turns on its head and the character becomes radically empowered, emboldened, and effective. It’s like nothing can get in their way. The rest of the story is spent on the character defeating their enemy with newfound power, until the climax is reached and the story is resolved.
Imagine a story that spends hour after hour taking you through a minutia of scenes to break that character down, only to have that character never actually get there! It would be nothing more than a catalog of bad decisions, a routine of selfish desires and a dulling apathy that stinks like excuses, criticism, and pathetic pride as the character’s development and the forward movement of the plot skids to a stop like an albatross crash landing in a marsh. If that character convinced us they would never give in to all the external influences driving them to vulnerability, that story would get old and eventually we’d shut it off and spew it out of our mouth.
The hallmark of a good story is that through its process, the character is transformed into someone he or she never would have become on their own.
Are you tracking with me? Can you see the process that God uses to work on us, conforming us to be more like His Son? It’s remarkable how in our face it all is, yet we still fight it.
So as we bring it all back to how this can be utilized in our relationship with the highest and greatest power in the Earth and heaven, consider how vulnerable you are willing to expose yourself to God.
You see, through our vulnerability is the ONLY way God can engage with us. It's the thing which He most desires to do. He resists the proud, and pride is always at the core of self-preservation. So what tools do we have that allow us to control this vulnerability and bring it about on a regular basis?
The answer is sacrificial giving. The art of sacrificial giving and its benefits was best demonstrated by our Lord as He went to the cross for our redemption. But we are allotted our own opportunities to experience this same process in the giving of our time, money, patience, concern, appreciation, and our lives.
As we give, we become vulnerable to a point of needing outside help. When we give in God’s economy and in God’s way, to God’s work for God’s purposes, as led by His Spirit, we become vulnerable to the principalities of this world, but wholly open to receiving that which is waiting to empower us, in heaven.
This is what He meant when He said, Wait upon the Lord, and again I say… wait. To wait isn’t a passive term necessarily rather it often means to wait through occupation, struggle, strife, and unpleasant events, but to do so with the expectation and hope of deliverance.
His Spirit isn’t in heaven needing to travel a great distance to arrive at our situation. His Spirit is ever-present with us, pressing into our hearts with a still small voice knocking to enter. You see, the door to His power swings on the hinges of vulnerability.
By the way when I say giving into God’s work, I’ll leave that up to you to determine. It could be the Spirit of God is encouraging you to give to your community, a family member, or a complete stranger, or it could be that He wants you to support your church. In general that is how He has set things up. Support the church and the church operates to help these other entities. But God is sovereign and He works in mysterious ways so we won’t discount how you determine you should give. Besides, He will always take care of His church and He will always compel you through His Word and His Spirit.
Giving and sacrifice is a process we go through to shift our reliance from our own resources to His resources, and the shifts we’ve put in place in the past don’t sustain us for the future. This is a constant daily process til the day we die, if we want His power present in our lives.
Too often we say we can’t give money because we are on a fixed income, or we can’t give any time because we have so many other responsibilities, or we can’t offer up any energy because we are already too tired. These are all characters who are caught up in that first cycle before the inciting incident, evading the gauntlet that will bring them to a place of vulnerability. All they need to do is take that last step of giving their final thread of self preservation over to God and trusting Him with the vulnerability it creates. But rather they refuse and instead of producing results, fruit, and power in their lives they produce excuses.
It takes faith, trust, and belief to cross this threshold. Since most Christians don’t take these steps on purpose, God lets our struggles unfold little by little that we may grow incrementally. Meanwhile, we miss out on blessings that could be ours, and our lives, our churches, and our relationship with Him grows cold.
We tend to take back that which we’ve once given to God, but let me encourage you to consider this process and think about where you could give your last two mites to cut the strings of self-reliance in some area of your life, and then ask God to show up in His power to push you into showers of blessing rather than just settling for the raindrops of His mercy.
At the time of this post, we are in the midst of the Coronavirus. Many are fearful, others apprehensive, but all of us wonder one thing. Will God spare us and our loved ones? Will the rain fall on the just and the unjust or will we find favor and deliverance?
We are all too familiar with messages of hope in God as we are constantly being encouraged to trust Him, but we also need to know how to go about that, and I believe a big key to this is in the idea of giving yourself away to a point of vulnerability, and then asking God to make up the hedge.
This is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to engaging God’s power in our lives but it’s a crucial aspect. Crucial because we need to embrace it and crucial because it helps us understand why we are so compelled to give and sacrifice. It makes more sense than doing it just because someone told us we have to. Many Christian’s have no idea how to stimulate God, get their prayers answered, and live in victory. They have low octane faith and because of it, Satan is gaining ground and stealing away our liberties. In the vein of such a thought, my mind recalls...
Jeremiah 33:33 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. AND
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
If you are truly leaving all of this in His hands, then you have nothing to fear. Does it mean you or your loved ones won’t be affected by the Coronavirus? Of course not. We’ve all been impacted already. Does it mean the economic fluctuations won’t affect you? Nope, can’t make that promise either. But does it mean He will carry you through, if you follow Him? And that if He takes you home that He will take the sting out of death? And that all things work together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose? Absolutely!
Peace isn’t found in the blessing of the giver, it’s found in the Giver of the blessing. Giving is just what puts us in the center of the ultimate Giver, Christ. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. A daily relinquishing of our own will invites His will to reign in our lives and with it all the provision, power, purpose, prosperity, and perpetuity that are bound up in the fruits of His Spirit.
So what are we looking at here? We’re looking at being able to cast off the narrow vision of our carnal minds and adopt spiritual minds that can incur an eternal scope. We are being compelled by our circumstances to recognize God’s sovereignty will never be challenged and our hope isn’t in getting our way, it’s in allowing Him to have His way. Ouch. I know, I struggle with it too but it’s the safest place you can be in life or in death, in victory or travail because only in Him do we prosper.
Romans 14:7-8 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
By choosing vulnerability as your cloak, you can peaceably accept whatever comes your way because you know in whom you have believed. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable with only God to cover you, you are inviting God into your life. And through it all, you will discover the power of dying to self, by giving to others that you may live!