Diligently Seeking God’s Strength
“The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.” Exodus 15:2
I was failing. Daily. My behavior looked so contrary to my desires—to God’s desires for me—but I felt powerless to act differently.
That summer was perhaps the most challenging, discouraging, and empowering time I’ve faced. Our family began with hopes and ideals: We’d reveal the sacrificial and patient love of God, and through our obedience, He would bring hope and healing to a broken, at-risk youth.
It began when we learned a local teen would soon be homeless. This instantly stirred our hearts, and after some prayer, we felt certain God wanted us to respond. We’d worked with at-risk students before, had even taken classes on trauma and attachment issues.
We knew it’d be tough, but we felt equipped for the role.
Within a month, our assumptions proved false. None of us imagined just how difficult things would become. Not only had the teen experienced a violent upbringing, one that had landed most of his family in prison, but he was angry, defiant, deeply entrenched in gang culture, and obsessed with marijuana.
Plus, he hated women, which made parenting him when my husband wasn’t around impossible. As the challenges rose, my strength declined and my guilt increased.
One Sunday morning, defeated, I tearfully said to our pastor. “I don’t think I can do this.”
His reply: “You’re right. You can’t. You need Jesus.”
He wasn’t meaning a deposit of Christ in my soul. I already had that. I needed to seek Him, moment by moment, thought by thought, searching for and grabbing hold of His strength with every breath. The moment I took my eyes of Jesus, my strength evaporated. But in His embrace, love and joy flooded my heart, helping me stand strong when I wanted to cave and persevere when I wanted to quit.
I learned that this is to be a continual and determined action where we focus on Jesus and rely completely on Him. That is how we find the strength—His strength—to love others well.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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