the white flag paradox

Have you ever fought in a war?  For your sake, I hope the answer is no.  If it’s not, I hope that you were fighting for something worthy of your life, like freedom or justice.  How about a battle?  Nerf? Squirt gun?

Now let me ask you something else: have you ever fought a losing battle?  I can answer this yes, both literally and figuratively (because, as usual, this story has more to it than you might think at first).  When two little boys have water balloons, defense is fairly easy. The solutions are running and dodging.  But when two little boys grab the hose and point it straight at you, you have officially lost the battle to stay even a little bit dry. That’s the part where you throw up the white flag and surrender.  And you hope that they aren’t taking prisoners or torturing that day.

it’s funny how just about everything in life has a spiritual parallel.

I was listening to the radio today, since Audrey doesn’t have a CD player, AUX port, or anything better than a tape player (and my tapes range from Joe Scruggs to Sesame Street to my dad’s country music tapes. not of which I would choose for my car ride), and the song “White Flag” by Chris Tomlin came on.  All of a sudden, I heard it in a new way than I ever had before.

So much in our Christian lives is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.  It makes little sense to people to give up our discouragement in job searches, our frustration in relationships, our inability to keep our rooms clean.  Our culture says to push through, to persevere, that you – the strong, condiment, determined, capable individual – can win this if you try hard enough.  Our logic goes through the rolodex of solutions in our heads, exhausting every possibility before even thinking of giving up.

Because giving up means weakness and failure.  And that is something we can’t bear.  Sending up the white flag seems stupid and shameful.

It’s so simple to cave to our humanity, not necessarily easy since it makes things so much harder for us, adding to our workload, our stress, detracting from our sense of self-worth.  I don’t know about you, but I frequently forget what I capable God I serve.  I was going to say capable by comparison to me, but that would really be like comparing Hershey’s chocolate to tiramisu as an adequate dessert, and let’s be honest: there’s no comparison.  And I also forget that it’s not weak to lay down my problems before Jesus, to say that I can’t do anything with them anymore.  It’s not lazy to ask God to figure things out for me.  True surrender takes trust and strong faith.

I love this passage from 2 Corinthians 12, as Paul talks about how he had a thorn in his flesh, how it was something that he couldn’t handle on his own.  He asks God to take it from Him, and even though I still have a lot of questions about this passage, I just love the response he gets:

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Giving my issues, my failures, my insufficiencies, my character flaws, my sinful tendencies to God doesn’t show my weakness or inability, but rather, it gives God an opportunity to show His strength through me.

Ah, I love the paradoxes of Christianity.  And how God gives us visual aids. Oh, Lord, I’d be so confused without those.  I give up. Here’s my white flag.

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