Felipe here. You may or may not know me, although odds are that at the time of this writing, most of those reading this do. But how well do we really know anyone?Sometimes it is hard to get to know one and another, depending on proximity, time available, personalities, etc.
For example, many of you do not know that I used to take when first dating Valerie in the early 1990s, I found she did not care for any songs by Tom Petty that were being released at that time. So I took great pleasure listening to classic rock stations, waiting for an older Tom Petty song to come on, and then casually asking if she liked that song, only to then with a dramatic flair announce, "Ah ha! That is Tom Petty!" And yet despite that and many other such stories from real life, she still agreed to marry me.
Another thing that strangers, acquaintances, and even friends sometimes do not get to know is a quality I possess in which I think many of us could identify...inadequacy. When we share our story, I am quick to point out that serving here in general and especially in a position of ministry leadership is definitely not something I identify as a strength or something innate in me. What goes along with that, but that is hard to share in a casual conversation, is a deep seated feeling of inadequacy. Sometimes that can be good...in being able to clearly see a lack of ability to gain favor with God based on merit or good deeds. Sometimes however it can also manifest in an almost crippling lack of belief of worth, of ability, and underlying doubt of Christ's redeeming power. It can be extremely difficult to work well when this is most manifest, hard to participate well in relationships, and hard to just be in public for any length of time. It can leave you feeling trapped in your house, not seeing a way out.
Those are just two embarrassing stories of my past...and present. Stories that can be hard to share, or hard to find people with whom we feel close enough to share. Not everyone wants to share our semi-embarrassing, or perish the thought actual deep dark secrets, with almost anyone. How you handle that will vary...but there is One with whom we can, and should share all that and so much more.
Tom Petty is no longer with us, but his songs are.
In a world (or inside my own brain) that can be so twisted, difficult and hard to navigate, we can take solace/strength in what? Only God...only He can get us through, only He can save our wretched souls. This is no mere platitude, not something we say to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes it does not make me feel better...but I can still know it is better and will get better. Only He can give us clarity in the fog of our brains, only He provides a solid foundation on which we can stand. Only He can lift us up and keep us going when our will gives out...
"You could stand me up at the gates of hell,
But I won't back down
Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around,
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down,
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down"
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