As a child, I was fascinated by power stations. I loved the transformation plants where I admired all those electrical masts and cables. I had found an odd end of a board and a hammer. I knew where my father kept his nails. And so I started pounding nails into my piece of wood as deftly as my little hands were able to. At last the board was full of nails and all my "electrical masts" were connected to each other in a maze of yarn. Proudly I presented the first in a succession of many "power plants" to my parents, who were amazed at my creativity.
I grew up in a family where we were encouraged to be creative. I was never told, "No, you can't do that." Where there was a will, there was a way. Maybe we would substitute some material with what we had at hand, but we always found a way to make do. And so I have tried my hand at many things and learned to do things by trial and error, by watching and improving, finding new ways to make things work.
This background has made me confident—maybe too much so. When my husband says, "We can't do that, it won't work," I say,"Why not? Let's try!" But it has also made me prone to overdo things. If tend to take on too many things.
We had planned a concert at our church for Sabbath afternoon. I was involved in all but two of the musical renditions, and I had to rehearse with everybody. I was a busy mother with a family of three children to take care of, and at the same time I had to prepare food for the Sabbath as we had invited some friends to come over for the weekend. When I sat down at the piano to practice, I realized that I had taken on more than I could cope with. My hands were trembling uncontrollably. My heartbeat was racing, and I had the impression that I couldn't breathe. All I could do was lie down on my bed and try to calm down. And so I started praying, "I know I've taken on too much now, Lord. Please help me! I can't do it by myself. If you want this concert tomorrow, please help me to calm down and give me Your power." After a while, my heart calmed down and my hands stopped trembling. After half an hour, I was able to get up with new strength. God had wanted to help me all along, but I had forgotten to plug into His power plant. I didn't have to do it alone. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).
We often try to do everything in our own strength and forget that God wants to help us. This is a risk, particularly for us who are "strong." I am grateful that I was able to grow up as a strong and confident person, but it is a challenge for me to learn to rely on God and not on my own strength. It is only when we realize that we are dependent on His power that we can let Him help us. And so we, too, must become weak in order to be strong in God.
Many women in particular are at the end of their tether. Exhausted by all the work they have to manage—in their jobs, at home taking care of their children, and participating in church activities—they often do more than anybody could cope with.
At a recent Women's Ministry retreat, I was amazed by the large number of women who felt the need for renewed strength. I had accessed my email just before I left for work. The speakers for a planned retreat had canceled their appointment with very short notice. The WM director asked me if I had any idea what we should do with this weekend retreat. Should we cancel it, or did I have something I could present? As I drove to work, I thought about this problem and asked God to give me the right ideas as to what I should present if this retreat should take place. And the possible topics surfaced, one after the other. Where do I get power for my everyday life? ... By the time I arrived at work God had inspired me with a complete set of themes for the weekend. The invitations were sent out. We had imagined a small group of interested women. But we were amazed that we ended up with a house filled to capacity. This retreat was just what these women needed in their search for strength.
Sometimes we feel that we have a mountain to move and have no strength to move even a pebble. Sometimes we have to leave things undone. Maybe it isn't even necessary that these things be done. We need to make sure we are not trying to do things that should be done by others. But when we are trying to do what God has put in our way to do, He will help us through. But we have to ask Him for help. We have to submit our efforts to Him.
Last summer my husband and I held evangelistic meetings in the Ukraine. My husband had been there previously, and this time I wanted to accompany him. I had heard about his experiences there, but still I didn't really know what to expect. And so I gave the whole project in prayer to the Lord. I asked Him to take care of everything as I didn't even really know what to ask for. We were going to drive 1,100 miles to get there, and knowing that I have a problem with my back which gives me pain after a short time in a car, I was a bit concerned about how I would cope with the long drive. We were to present three lectures each day, and when I saw the hard seats in the auditorium I was shocked. I could never take that But I sat down anyway. About halfway through the series, I woke up one night to the realization that I had had no pain in my back all the time we had been there or on our way in the car, not evr.n the normal pain I always experienced at home. God's presence in my life became clear to me. He had performed a miracle to give me strength and removed my pain! It was not until I was back home that I experienced back pain again. God had helped even though I had not known what to ask for specifically. But I had given Him charge of the whole project and trusted Him to take care of whatever was necessary.
This trust in God in our daily lives to provide us with strength for each new day is what we need. We need to stay close to Him, to be plugged into His power plant. It is at our disposition. His power is immeasurably greater than we can imagine. Why not ask for it right now?