This past weekend I was celebrating my dear friend’s wedding the way I always celebrate: by working it out on the dance floor. I love to dance, though I am fairly certain now that dancing does not love me back. The “it” I worked out on the dance floor was, unfortunately, my hip. I am not really sure what happened, except that after one particularly spectacular Elaine Benes-style move I felt a pop and pain (never a good combination!). I went to bed on Friday evening in pain, and woke up Saturday morning with a hip that didn’t work. I could barely walk down the hall, and it is a very short hall. I was left with one choice, and therefore one problem. My one choice: rest. My one problem? I hate resting.
In the aftermath of my rejected sacrifice to the gods of dance, my amazing family decided that they would do everything for me; that what I really needed was to just lie in bed for a few days. In other words, I needed to embrace my weakness so that I could heal. If I ignored my weakness, ignored my injury, I would undoubtedly injure myself even further, and quite possibly injure myself for the rest of my life. On the other hand, if I could just lie there, I would get better. This killed me. I hate not being up, I hate not doing, and the thought of a few days trapped in my bedroom threatened to send me over the edge.
I hate my weakness. I know that sounds strong, but that’s not even the worst of it. To be really honest, most of the time I hate weakness in other people, too. I want all of us to be strong and capable… but I want to be a little more strong and capable than you, just so I feel okay about myself. Boy, that looks ugly in print. Unfortunately, it’s the truth: I find my okay-ness—my righteousness—in my own strength, and that’s all the easier to do if I can tell myself that my strength is a little stronger than yours.
Jesus’ call in Matthew 11:28 is “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This call is almost universally seen as one of comfort, yet I often find it an annoyance. I don’t want rest; I’ve given in completely to—and fallen in love with—the law that is always screaming at me to “get to work!” In a great irony, though, my inability to accept that I am weak is the very thing that is keeping me from the comfort that Jesus is calling me to embrace. When I militate against needing help, I am denying the only help that is needed. Contrary to popular belief (in the “God helps those who help themselves” vein), it is my weakness that is the only thing that recommends me before God. It is while we were powerless that Christ came for us (Romans 5:6).
Recognizing my inability to be what I should be, do what I should do, and live how I should live is the golden ticket into the throne-room of grace. Usually, we have it reversed: we think our strength is what makes God love us, and proud of us. It is, however, our weakness, our deadness, and our fallenness that draws his heart to ours. It is in our weakness that we see our never-ending need for a Rescuer, for someone outside of us to do the work. It is in that recognition that we find freedom: freedom to love others in their weakness, freedom to be human, and freedom to receive the rest that Christ Himself promised to us.
As we come to grips with God’s movement toward the weak, we can stop trying to prove ourselves to God, and stop making others prove themselves to us. The Gospel paints a picture of a Jesus who takes us in before God and says, “This one, the one that can’t dance, the one that hates to rest, the one that keeps trying to prove herself, this one is mine. This one is going to be hidden in my goodness, in my work.” It is there in the throne-room of grace where I see that my weakness is my greatest asset and my Savior’s work on my behalf is not only all I need, but is what I have already been given.