Thursday, May 29, 2014

Find Power in Weakness

My daughter wanted a monkey piñata for her birthday. Not only that, but because my girls are getting a little older, it had to be the kind of piñata you hit. The pull strings just didn’t cut it anymore.

I was unable to find one so we decided to undertake it as a summer craft project. After all, who doesn’t love playing with papier-mâché?

We cut cardboard, wadded newspaper, glued strips, and added paint. Here was our finished project.

We did our best to make the monkey as strong as possible. We’d never made a piñata before so we weren’t sure how well it would hold together once the bat started swinging.

At the time of the party, we hung the piñata on our swing set and lined up my nieces and nephews, starting with the youngest first. We gave her a plastic whiffle bat, blindfolded her, and let her at it. No damage.

Next child, no damage.

We went through the entire line of candy-craving children with no damage to the piñata. It was too strong.

We decided not to blindfold the kids so they could have a more accurate blow to the dangling monkey. The plaster started to crack a little with each swing but no signs of a candy-supplying hole.

We gave the kids a real bat instead of the plastic one. They went through the line again – trying to tear the piñata apart.

Finally, we stepped it up a final notch. We brought in our two oldest daughters. Both of our strong teenage girls have been swinging a softball bat as long as they can remember.

First the younger, then the older – they stood in swinging stance and swung with all their might. The plaster started to crumble off the inner cardboard structure. Still, nothing that would make the piñata give up its sweet contents.

After a few rounds by the older daughters, the younger of them hit the piñata right on the hole where we had filled it.

She found the weak spot; the piñata crumbled in one blow.

In the end, one good hit in the weak spot was all it took to bring it down.

I’m kind of like that monkey piñata and I think a lot of you may be as well. We are so strong. We’ve built a sturdy structure in our life; we’ve plastered it smooth with layers of protection.

But we also all have a weak spot – a hole we haven’t filled. A single blow to that one area may be all it takes to bring us down. That one blow may make us explode as all the issues we hold in come pouring forth.

Even the apostle Paul had a weak spot. If he’s not above an area of weakness, then I know you and I aren’t either. We, like Paul, need to be aware that our weak spot is where Satan is going to take his swings at us. “Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment me so I would not exalt myself” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

We are pretty powerful on our own. We can withstand a lot of blows without more than a few cracks in our outer layer. Eventually, though, Satan sends one of his messengers to find and exploit that weak spot.

What do we do then?

In that moment, we recognize our strength is inadequate on its own. We remember that, as a follower of Christ, the Lord is our strength. “The Lord is the strength of His people; He is a stronghold of salvation for His anointed” (Psalm 28:8). It is our weakness that reveals His power.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

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