A Friend and a Frame

She pulls them out of me. The words- like barbs through the back of the throat. We’ve been here before, she and I; in those early days of motherhood, when the sons came one on the heel of another. Those turbulent months forged our friendship. Forged our sisterhood. There in my kitchen fear had enclosed around me- the nagging suspicion that I was failing at everything that mattered most. “Aroea, His grace is not just sufficient for you, it’s sufficient for your children.”

In one Spirit led phrase the fear dissipates.

But that was then. The sons are just two of five children now; so many more seemingly in the wake of my weakness. And fear has come calling again. This time it’s her kitchen. I stare at the black and white tile. I’m back to my nagging suspicions and she’s back to His grace.

“It’s sufficient for you…”

I nod superficially as the words sink below me.

She doesn’t stop.

“…for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

My stomach does a hard flip.

I hate my weakness. Such verses are good rhetoric from a pulpit but not in this daily. My insufficiency is too literal- too tangible.  LORD, surely this is not what you meant! She sees the reaction- the repulsion and she pushes on the soul knot. “You should say it.” I scoff but there’s no getting around her. Years have taught me that her gentle nature belies a relentlessness.

The words are fractured and dreadfully insincere at first. Coming out in tumbles of cynical laughter. I try several more times each with less laughter- less resistance. “His power is made perfect… in… my… weakness. The knots begin to untie and I sigh. It is resignation more than revelation but it’s a start. I don’t want to see my great need- this insufficiency. His ways are just not my ways.

Back home, I lie on the lumpy green sofa. The children rest in their beds, the youngest three asleep and the other two pouring over library books.  The crack of resignation has now widened enough for dialog. Father, how can you REALLY perfect power in weakness? It doesn’t even make sense.

Across my mind He hands me an image. A frame- a rugged wooden frame and I understand. The frame is not much of anything on it’s own. Really just a void and an easily broken piece of glass. But if you pair a frame and a picture well they both display their fullest intent. It’s not that the frame in any way makes the picture more. Still, the picture somehow appears perfected in it’s setting.

Really God. My weakness is framing up Your power?

I feel His smile. He is so patient with my doubt.

If I’m honest it’s still somewhat of an impossibility- this framing up God’s nature. And if I’m brutally honest that’s not really the crux of the matter. It’s not that I don’t believe God can fill the need? It’s that I don’t want to need. This pride. This first sin- to reject that I wholly need and He wholly is. And to deny my void of weakness is to deny His lavish graciousness to fill it.

Oh Father, that I would no longer strive, to tragic end, to find in myself the sufficiency that you died to give.