When You Come to the End of Your Rope…
A Lenten Devotion for Christ Lutheran 18. of March, 2012
When we are young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we think we can change the world; we can tear out trees by their roots, in short, there is nothing we think we cannot do. Then life and the world catches up with us, slaps us in the face, and shows us our limits.
In a particularly difficult period in my life, when I was ministering in Berlin, Germany, when my troubles just wouldn’t go away, one night I felt like I was dying. I was lying in bed and I thought I was getting a heart attack. I had come to the end of my rope. I was at my end. “O Lord,” I said, now the fire in my oven has gone out!” I had no strength to go on.
Then I remembered how my counselor said, “The resurrection is our business!” I suddenly realized that I could only live out of the strength of another life!
I got up and said, “O Lord, now I have to live out of your strength, because I have no more of my own.” As I got up out of bed, I realized that I no longer lived, but Christ lived in me. Christ, of course, does wonders and one step after another resolved my problems.
Later I was reading Luther’s Theology of the Cross in his Heidelberg Disputation. Thesis No. 18 states, “It is certain that we must utterly despair of our own ability, before we are prepared to receive the grace of Christ.”
In our day as well as in Luther’s we believe that if we do what is in us, then God will come and do the rest. That is only true for someone who knows about what we do with our hands, but not the troubles we encounter in our hearts. We foolishly believe that what we do is partly by our own strength and effort and partly by God’s grace. That did not jive with Luther’s experience nor after that experience, with mine. And what a difference between doing what we can do and Christ doing God’s work through us! It is true that we do nothing, now knowing, that we have died in Christ and the risen Lord is doing everything through us and we can continue living out of God’s gracious strength, which is really gracious, because there is truly nothing God cannot do. So when our lives really come to an end here on earth, Christ will raise us up in that life in heaven where we’ll be home. Amen.
Pastor Peter Krey