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Madeline Johnson

Founder of: Cultivating Wildflowers

How would you define "strength" in terms of faith?

So, I honestly feel unequipped to be telling you about what I know here. I cannot even comprehend the depths of my brokenness and weakness. I do know that the more I see my depravity, the more I see the wholeness and fullness of the Lord. I do not entirely understand, but I do know the Lord usually uses unequipped people. So, from the things He has taught me, both through experience and His Word, I think that finding strength in the Lord begins with acknowledging personal weakness. I think it is understanding that even my best strengths are still so weak in view of the Lord’s strength. Because I am broken, my strengths will be broken, too.
Scripture says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). So, for me, the process of letting the Lord be strong in my weakness begins with worship. It’s me saying, “you are God and I am not. You are entirely strong and I am entirely weak.” I have to choose not ti be bitter because of my weakness or compare myself to others who don’t struggle as much with the same things; this requires a grateful heart. And this is where I find joy!!!
After preparing my heart, I usually just have to go for it. But remember!!!: I’m still weak! I feel that I often walk into circumstances fully aware of my weakness, battling the anxiety that comes from fear of failure or messing up. I have found, though, that there is no anti-anxiety or anti-fear requirement for the Lord to work through me. (Just think of Moses, who was afraid of talking to people or David, who was afraid for his life!) Rather, anxiety or fear cannot be the driving-factor of my decisions. I have to choose the promises of the Lord that He will be strong, then go where He is calling me, even if that means I go scared. For the Lord to be strong in my weakness, I have to start by giving Him an opportunity to be strong. So, go, nervous and all. He has never failed to carry out His promises before. Furthermore, why would He pass up a chance to get glory in your life?

What areas of your life do you feel weakest? How has that challenged your relationship with God?

 Recognizing my weaknesses has caused me to depend more heavily on the Lord. A prayer that I have specifically prayed over the past year is this: “Lord, show me my weaknesses, so I can know your strength.” The Lord’s answer to this prayer has laid me low. I am weak in a battle with anxiety that stems out of fear of what others think. I am weak in seasons of grief. I am weak in countless social situations. I am weak in my ability to love others. I am weak. My weakness feel like threads hanging off me, that can catch on anything or that anyone can pull at any minute, causing me to fall. However, my Father is weaving His strength into my threads, making ropes. And He is using those ropes to pull me closer to Himself. My weaknesses have become the reason that I am more closely knit with my God. This is how I am experiencing Him.

Describe a time that god was the strength in your life.

There are so many moments that come to my mind-I have to share more than one!
A few years ago, I prayed that the Lord would make me empathetic. He answers prayer! But it wasn’t long until I became so empathetic for people that my body could not physically handle it. It sounds crazy, but I would enter in to other people hurt so deeply, that I would get sick, sometimes instantly. I do believe that as Jesus enters in, we should too, but I was not letting Jesus carry the burden of the pain; I was trying to carry it all on my own. The Lord’s answer to my plea became my biggest weakness because as I sought the empathy He was giving me, I thought I could find strength in myself to bear the burdens of others. But empathy without the Lord is only guilt and pain. Over the past year, I am learning how to bear the burden and pain to the extent of my human limits, and to let the Lord be my strength when it is too heavy. The Lord DOES give us more than we can bear because it makes us lean on Him. So, He’s answering my prayer and teaching me to lean.
Another time, I was asked to share my testimony with a group of people. I was excited to share what the Lord is doing in my life, but I don’t like talking to a lot of people at once. I had to prepare my heart, and I asked that God would give me peace. Then, I went nervously. In His timing, the Lord gave me peace. Through His strength, I trust He got the glory in me.
The more I rely on God the more it becomes natural to me. I pray that it would become an instinct, like breathing. Every small step of reliance causes me to walk more confidently in His strength.