Friday, November 30, 2012

OnFire #291 I’ve Got Nothin’

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #291 I’ve Got Nothin’

Most weeks it is not much trouble to write OnFire. I usually have an experience from which I’ve learned something and I pass it along. Often I reflect on some of the more unusual moments I have. They stand out, since they are a little odd, and I often glean a little life lesson which reminds me of a passage from the Bible.

This week I’m coming up empty, without some incident I feel I can write about. Its not that there haven’t been some weird moments, like last week when I returned to my locker after a workout at the gym, and couldn’t remember which one was mine. I knew the section where it was, but I often rely on the fact that many locks look different from my generic silver combination lock. This time I scratched my head as I gazed upon an entire row of generic-looking silver combination locks. I hope no one thought I was trying to break into someone else’s locker as I tried all of the locks to find mine. Perhaps I should pay more attention, a fact Jan sometimes wishes, because I don’t always notice when she returns from the hair dresser. I’m working on that one...

I’ve thought and thought about that lock incident and keep drawing blanks. It has the potential for a good story, but without application there isn’t much point. I usually don’t try to force the issue since then I would be drawing from my head and not my heart, and it would probably feel a little artificial.

Moving on, I’m illustrating that I often don’t have trouble drawing lessons from some of life’s little moments and passing them along, but this week I’m coming up short. As the saying goes, “I’ve got nothin’.”

This is actually a feeling I’m a little used to. Even after a while in ministry, I often arrive at church thinking I haven’t prepared well enough. I see the difference between what I have and what could be, and wish I had just a little more time to get ready. Its a variation on “I’ve got nothin’.” I know I did as much as I could under the constraints I had and I wasn’t wasting time, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

At these moments I often pray something like this: “Lord, I’ve done all I could. If anything is going to come from this, it has to be from you.” It’s a very humbling prayer to acknowledge that my effort may not be good enough. But the reality is that God is so much more powerful than I am, and He can work in ways I cannot. This can never be an excuse for not doing my best. But rather, it gives hope in the context of my own weakness and deficiencies.

Here’s the neat thing. I can point back to so many times when I’ve had that feeling, and reached out in prayer to God because I felt so inadequate, and the result worked out so beautifully. Much better than I had planned or hoped. At those times I thank the Lord because I know it wasn’t me. I see this as an example of God’s strength demonstrated in our weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9*)

I told Jan I was going to write about “nothing” this week. I hope my “nothing” gives you something at those moments when you feel inadequate for the task. I hope this helps. Be on fire.

OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Nov 30, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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