by Kelly Quarando
Knowledge has always been a safe place for me.
When I was younger, getting A’s seemed to be natural. I never had to try as hard as those around me - high school was especially easy. I’m not saying I never struggled, but knowledge was something that came more naturally for me than it did for some of my peers. And that gave me a lot of personal security.
When I was 15, my uncle invited me to travel across the country to attend a Christian summer camp, Pine Cove. I remember being excited about all the activities I was going to experience that week – rock climbing and wakeboarding, to name a few.
But, I will never forget the first night in my cabin.
We were having a Bible study on the cabin floor and my counselor told us all to turn to Matthew. And for the first time in a long time, I felt dumb.
Everyone else around me was flipping through their Bibles like pros. I didn’t even know that Matthew was a book of the Bible. I remember the panic that went through my brain as I prayed (for the first time in a long while) that I would stumble across a page that said “Matthew” at the top of it.
Thankfully, I found this gem called the index, which pointed me in the right direction. I thought I was pretty slick and that no one had noticed I had no idea what I was doing, however, my counselor did. She noticed that I didn't know. And it was through her pressing into my life that week and telling me what a real relationship with Jesus looked like that things started to change.
After giving my life to Christ that week, nothing in my life actually changed all that much. I learned to say the right things, which is why that same camp hired me to come work for them in the summer of my sophomore year of college. I could quote John 3:16 like a champ, and tell you I was walking with the Lord.
But the truth was, I was still partying several days a week and living a double life in college. I was depressed and trying to find satisfaction in things that just would not satisfy, and I did all that I could to keep up the charade.
Then, I felt called to go to seminary. And once again, that feeling of “being dumb” began to threaten me. My knowledge of scripture at this point was at an infant’s level. I knew how to navigate my way through the index, but not incredibly much past that. And here I was studying with people from all over the world who knew their stuff.
And this is where God chose to finally break me.
For too long, I had lived as if I knew God intimately. I was hiding behind walls of knowledge that could no longer support themselves, and God, it seems, had had enough. God was going to reveal the real me. And it was going to hurt.
God revealed how bad my depression really was, how co-dependent I was on other people, and how I was going through the motions to look like I had everything together. He put people in my life to expose these sins and patterns and to literally break me of all I had. I could no longer pretend I had the answers. It all came crumbling down.
Though it was extremely painful, something sweet started to happen - for the first time in a long time, I experienced freedom. I realized that letting my walls down is okay, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
I also started to see that the Bible was full of people who had the courage to admit they don’t have it all together.
- I saw that Abraham and Sarah laughed at God’s promise to them.
- I saw that Gideon distrusting that God could use someone like him and made God prove Himself by using a variety of miracles.
- I saw that Paul considered himself the chief of sinners, Thomas doubted, Mary became low and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair, and David cried out to God in the Psalms about how sinful he was.
Above all else, I saw that Jesus modeled vulnerability in a way I had never seen before.
Jesus gave up Heaven, and chose to take on human form. He was all-powerful, yet remained humble. He spoke the truth, even when it hurt. We see a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that defies our worldly idea of having it together:
“And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
"...Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.” (Matthew 26:37-39; 42-43)
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
Sorrowful. Troubled. Agony.
These are just some of the words that Jesus felt right before He went to be beaten, mocked, scorned, and killed. He didn’t pretend that it was just another day and everything would be great. He did not dismiss His feelings, and He did not hide behind His title. Jesus could be vulnerable because He knew whom He was glorifying.
I am tired of putting up a front like I have everything together. The truth is, I don’t have it all together, and I am willing to bet you don't either.
What if having everything together is not how it’s supposed to be, but in fact, we were made to rely on the One who did?
A truth that we often don’t believe is that our vulnerability reveals the glory of God.
Because it reminds others that none of us have to have it all together and that we are all dependent on a Savior. In fact, when we live life in such a way that says we-don’t-desperately-need-a-redeemer, we are just fooling ourselves.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Don’t get me wrong, my walls are still there, but they look a little more like the scattered ruins at Jericho than the massive fortress I once protected myself with.
And while I may know more about scripture and myself than I did four years ago, I actually find freedom knowing that I don’t have to know everything, and that I never will, this side of Heaven.
I rest because God is all-knowing, unchanging, and never failing. I can’t know enough. I can’t try enough. I can’t be good enough.
But his grace…his grace IS sufficient.