Footsteps to Follow: Am I enough?
When I was growing up, my mother would often communicate her frustration with me by using sayings. If I had “gotten too big for my britches,” she could “take me down a peg or two” by offering to “knock the chip off my shoulder.” These metaphors conjured up literal and scary images, therefore, having the desired effect on me without Mom taking further action. It was a good system, which I found useful when I became a parent myself.
During the past pandemic season, I was reminded that, even though I am an adult, a well-constructed phrase could still shake me up and turn me around.
The isolation, fear, and stress of navigating entirely new territory were wearing on me. Our church was closed for awhile, personal visits with our children and grandchildren were not advised, and keeping track of friends was limited to phone conversations. Bible studies and “fellowshipping” slipped into the mysterious realm of something called “Zoom”; entertainment was limited to listening to podcasts, watching movie channels, or finally tackling projects that could be done alone at home.
For a few months, it was a novelty that I prided myself on being able to handle like a true champion of the tough times. I saw myself as brave, inventive, disciplined, and warrior-like when I faced each day that, eventually, became more and more like the previous one. I knew everyone else was going through the same experience I was. Even when an airplane jet trail cut through the sky above, I realized every passenger probably had similar thoughts, struggling with stresses also.
But, soon, I was feeling really sorry for myself. The family reunions, graduations, and birthday celebrations were not happening. With my face covered by a mask, I felt panic in the middle of a grocery store. A telephone prayer chain request underscored the separation of being physically out of touch with neighbors in need. And, there seemed no end in sight.
My self-pity-party soon deteriorated into complaining–sometimes out loud but more often in my head, my heart, and my soul. I learned that being confined to the space of a computer screen for a worship service did not produce the same spiritual elevation as being side-by-side with others in a church sanctuary. Even the versions of Bible studies offered online held a certain loneliness. Singing with a church’s website music just was not the same as standing next to a friend with a great baritone voice.
So one morning, while I was trying to whip up enthusiasm for the day’s devotions, the Lord whispered an astounding question into my spirit. “Am I enough?” He asked. It left me shaken! And, it certainly “took me down a peg or two.” The question demanded that I seriously consider, if everything else were taken from me, would my intimate relationship with the Lord be enough? Could my personal link to God withstand having all the “bells and whistles” of faith disappear? I had to ask myself, would my faith hold, if my only connection to my Lord was manifested through his availability and my receptiveness? It was a time of serious soul-searching. But, it was a question that needed to be asked and one I needed to answer.
I realized how fortunate I was to always have had the privilege of owning and studying my Bible, of being free to attend the church of my choice, and of talking openly with friends and family about the Lord. I thought of the folks in other countries and in other eras who were often subjected to imprisonment, or worse, for just such activities. I had read about people who secretly followed their faith, even when they were fearful of doing so, or people who had no access to Bibles, worship services, or fellow Christians.
If God’s great love and faithfulness were “enough” for them, it should be “enough” for me. And, I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 when the Lord tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (NKJV).
I am glad the Lord asked that question of me, and I am glad that it led me to serious consideration. Each day now I try to make sure I am able to answer a sincere “yes”!
Nancy Baumgartner, White Pine Church-Cogan House Township