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Change the Conversation // Episode 4 // Leaning into Weakness

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Before we get into the lesson portion of today’s episode, I have to share about how this topic came about. For those of you who don’t know, all of us here at APM have other jobs, careers, and callings in addition to what God has called us to do through APM. So APM is something most of the team does on the side.

Over the past 6 months, the pace of our individual lives has picked up significantly. I would say we have all found ourselves in a season in which we feel that our capacities, and therefore our comfort levels, are being stretched. Sometimes when we face seasons like this, the Lord is trying to show us where to pare back and say no, and other times He is stretching us and teaching us how to rely on Him when we feel that we are beyond our natural capacity.

Personally speaking, my husband and I have found ourselves being youth pastors again. That was such a cool God story (and we are loving it), but adding it to our plates in this season of our lives has required much intentionality. Last week I took an awesome group of students to youth camp, and it was out of that experience that this episode came about.

In 23 years since being a student myself, I have only been to youth camp one time. I’m 41 years old. So I was praying for supernatural strength even prior to leaving, and that is literally what I experienced last week. Camp is such an amazing time, but you’re also talking about lack of sleep, physical activity in the hot sun every day, and then just the constant pouring into and shepherding students from a variety of backgrounds and demographics. So while the week was absolutely incredible (and I actually missed it when I got home!), it was also a time of complete mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pouring out.

The night we got back I was thinking about how God answered my continual prayer for strength throughout the week. As I was thinking about it and thanking God for it, the Lord brought the verse in 2 Corinthians to my mind, and I realized I might have experienced this verse more literally than I ever had before.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Now this is a well known verse we’ve likely heard countless times, but it hit me differently after last week. And this is where we’re going for today’s episode—and we’re going to start by looking at the word perfect. The word perfect in the Greek means this:

“completion, to reach the end” (Helps Word Studies)

And Helps Word Studies adds this note:

“It is well-illustrated with the old pirate's telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).”

That’s when it just clicked, like an “aha” moment. If you think of the analogy of this type of telescope, you realize that the clearest picture is seen only when the telescope is fully extended. You can still see through it while it’s not fully extended, but you won’t be able to see the clearest, most crisp picture.