Strong in the Broken Places

Strong in the Broken Places

I see the face of a man who failed. . . who failed his Maker. Again. I promised I wouldn’t, but I did. I was quiet when I should have been bold. I took a seat when I should have taken a stand. If this were the first time, it would be different. But it isn’t. How many times can one fall and expect to be caught?  Trust. Why is it easy to tell others and so hard to remind self? Can God deal with death? Can God deal with debt? ICan God hear yet one more confession from these lips?  The face in the mirror asks.

I sit a few feet from a man on death row. Jewish by birth. Tentmaker by trade. Apostle by calling. His days are marked. I’m curious about what bolsters this man as he nears his execution. So I ask some questions.

Do you have family, Paul? I have none.

What about your health? My body is beaten and tired.
What do you own? I have my parchments. My pen. A cloak.

And your reputation? Well, it’s not much. I’m a heretic to some, a maverick to others.

Do you have friends? I do, but even some of them have turned back.

Any awards? Not on earth.

Then what do you have, Paul? No belongings. No family. Criticized by some. Mocked by others. What do you have, Paul? What do you have that matters? I sit back quietly and watch. Paul rolls his hand into a fist. He looks at it. I look at it. What is he holding? What does he have?  He extends his hand so I can see. As I lean forward, he opens his fingers. I peer at his palm. It’s empty.

I have my faith. It’s all I have. But it’s all I need. I have kept the faith.

Paul leans back against the wall of his cell and smiles. And I lean back against another and stare into the face of a man who has learned that there is more to life than meets the eye.  For that’s what faith is. Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see.

Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel’s angel.
Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow.
Eyes see giants. Faith sees Canaan.
Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior.
Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood.
Your eyes see your grave. Your faith sees a city whose Builder and Maker is God.
Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure, a promise-breaker. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face.

But wait a minute, someone asks. How do I know this is true? Nice prose, but give me the facts. How do I know these aren’t just fanciful hopes?

If we think the arms are weak, we won’t jump. For that reason, the Father flexed His muscles. “God’s power is very great for those who believe,” Paul taught. “That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead” (Eph. 1:19—20).

Next time you wonder if God can catch you, read that verse. The very arms that defeated death are the arms awaiting you.

Next time you wonder if God can forgive you, read that verse. The very hands that were nailed to the cross are open for you.

What is the burden you are carrying today. He has strength when you have none. Spend time meditating on a God who is powerful enough to raise the dead.

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