Do You Have the Courage to Live as Nothing?

Sometimes humility is the pathway to relief.

After weeks of hard parenting moments, many, many tears, and very little margin to think adult thoughts, relief finally came.

A friend gave me two options: take my kids for the afternoon or bring my family dinner that night.

A mother-in-love showed up with an knowing heart, and said, “Just go. Nap, rest, read, pray. Just go. I have your children.”

A nearly six year old boy said, “Mommy, I will watch Sissy so you can take a little rest or maybe just get in some Bible reading time.”

A husband took my grocery list, and said, “I will take care of it. All of it. I got this.” Then later he said, “I need you to nurse her but that’s it. I got this. You go to bed.” And he took my monitor with him and kept it on his side all night.

These acts of service and love came after I shared, “I’m weary. I’m so weary. I need prayer.”

And they prayed.

And you prayed, sweet readers, those of you who read my emails. You prayed for rest and for relief. You prayed for space and time. You prayed for Jesus to make Himself known in His great love for me. I know this because you hit reply on my email and you told me.

I’m completely and utterly a wreck most days. Anything good that comes from me is nothing but the grace of a good and loving Father. I’m impatient with my kids. I’m snatchy with my time. In my weariness, I’m distant from my husband.

I am a broken Christian.

I’ve recently been reading Brokenness: The Heart God Revives by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth).

The book is filled with biblical insights into the type of heart that God revives and at the forefront is a broken and contrite heart. I particularly liked a Martin Luther quote she shared midway through the book. It’s been running on repeat through my head:

“God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.”

Oh for grace to understand this more deeply and the courage to live as nothing so that He can make me something for His glory.

My life verse is Psalm 51:10:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

I cannot be good on my own.

Goodness is a fruit of the spirit. Good is something I’m not but something I desperately want to be.

I want to be a good Christian, walking in love with all people, sharing the good news of the gospel with all I meet, and especially working to testify to the goodness of God in all that I do.

I want to be a good wife and mom, ever pointing my family to Jesus, daily leading them onward in their pursuit of what is pure and holy. I want to lean in when it’s hard and pull them closer when it’s harder. I want to serve them as though I am serving Jesus Himself.

But I am not good enough.

In myself, I am weak. In myself I am insufficient.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

That is why my battle is won only on my knees.

As God brings to light what I’ve begun to refer to as the “piddly sins,” I’m becoming more aware of my depravity than ever. I’ve long ceased the “gross sins” that enslaved me for years, and now God is doing the real work of sanctification. The nitty gritty. The stuff that I like to gloss over, or the sins that I can easily hide because so many of them take place in my thoughts and in my heart. On the outside I appear clean but on the inside I am but filth and soot.

I sent a text to my husband this week that said:

“I want so desperately to see change in my life. I want so desperately to have victory over this besetting sin. But it won’t be me. All I can do is repent over and over again. It will have to be God’s power that changes this heart of stone. I am evil and incapable of this change.”

When sin is so rooted, it can take days, months, maybe even years before victory can truly be claimed. There is grace for the ugly battle.

Is this what Paul meant when he asked God three times to deliver him and God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”? Was it simply a marker in the sand to remind Paul that he was a broken Christian?

  • Not perfect but washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb who was perfect for him.
  • Not strong but weak, empowered by another who is All Powerful.
  • Incapable of good but made capable by the risen Lord.

Is this what that scripture has meant all these years? Maybe. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Broken. Contrite. Humble. These are the character traits of the heart God desires. This is the heart God can use. I am nothing and for this I am grateful.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

Yoke translated in the Greek simply means “way.” Take my way upon you. The way of Jesus, following Jesus, this is what He promises to give us rest in – His way. The pathway is wrought with hardships and weary moments but as you submit to His way, repent and believe daily in His life, death, and resurrection for you, He gives rest.

His way is humility. His way is admitting you are weak. His way is confessing before a Holy God that you’ve been working in your own flesh and you need His Spirit afresh. His way is telling a friend you are weary today. His way is asking your mother in love to pick up the sandwich meat because you simply can’t do it for yourself. His way is admitting your weakness and failings to your husband. And His way is telling your friends through email that you are bitter and anxious about many things.

Humility. Brokenness.

Sometimes relief comes through humility because admitting to trusted friends and family members that I needed prayers set a domino effect in place I didn’t expect. It gave room for God’s people, the church, to be His hands and feet. The acts of service they bestowed upon me in my time of need wasn’t easy for any of them.

My friend had a full day from start to finish but she said, “Yes” to the Lord’s prompting to cook a meal for my family and deliver it.

My mother-in-love had a full day of caring for her elderly parents and more, but she said, “Yes” to the Lord’s prompting to make my small grocery run, and then give me space to fill however I truly needed to fill it.

My husband worked all day and all week and exhausted and weary himself he said, “Yes Lord,” and made our bulk grocery run on a Friday night at the height of traffic.

I rested for the first time in many weeks. Today I think clearly for the first time.

God’s way can bring relief when we share our weaknesses and struggles with others. God can bring rest to your soul and body when you bring Him a broken and contrite heart.

It is His way that I want because His way leads to righteousness and a good that surpasses all understanding.

This post was originally published October 17, 2016.

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  1. Oh my.. what a lovely word spoken by you from the Lord. May the Lord bless you, keep you, and make His face to shine upon you. Life on this earth is difficult, but He made a way out of the darkness.

  2. I hope my words inspire you because you inspire me to be a better Christian and a better mom because I intentionally read the Bible more trying to be intentional parent a better spouse and I don’t feel guilty about not being perfect because you are open that you’re not perfect . I am sure God is pleased with you . I pray he will bless you and your family and your ministry !

  3. Thank you for this message! It is challenging me. The comment by your son to give you time to rest or have “some Bible reading time,” struck me. I want my son and future children to know how important my relationship with Jesus by me modeling it, but I fail a lot. When I feel exhausted and burnt out, my time with the Lord is usually the first thing I give up in the morning so I can sleep more. If I spend the with the Lord in that mental/physical state I usually am dozing off in my prayers and I’m not comprehending what I’m reading. My question to you is how do you keep your walk with God first above all else (perhaps even above sleep)? It intrigued me that your son knew how much you loved reading your Bible!

    1. I am convinced that a woman who knows HOW TO study her Bible will never neglect it. With that said, I would encourage you to take a good look at how you’re approaching the Bible and by what strength you are seeking to grow in godliness in.

      Here are some resources to get you thinking:
      Are You Missing the Point of Your Quiet Time
      Women of the Word Book Review (and why it matters)
      Developing the Habit of a Daily Quiet Time No Matter What Season You’re In

      With those said 🙂 I do want to offer a word of encouragement. There are seasons when sleep is just more important. GASP! But they are the exception, not the rule. I think as moms we too often offer ourselves grace when in fact we need to repent and turn. If you’re more often than not finding yourself burnt out and exhausted, it might be time to take a look at why. But if this is a season, one when you’re waking multiple times a night with a new baby? Then it might just be a season you get through. Does that make sense? So, take some time to step back and evaluate WHY you’re often burnt out and exhausted. It may be you need to make some changes to start making time for what matters most. Pray and ask God for His wisdom, His eyes to see your life so that you may grow in godliness. He’s never failed to lead me when I go to Him, humbly seeking grace to change and turn from sin and grow in Christ-likeness.

      Blessings, sweet one. It is at the feet of Jesus you will find all that you need.

  4. Beautiful post. Difficult for me to read as I have no family to offer this time of rest and no friends that seem to be as compassionate as yours. Four kids at home though who are a huge blessing. They step-up when mom needs help and I am so thankful for their willing hearts. You are blessed to have so many who love you, please never forget that! Blessings on your day.

  5. Wow! I needed this word today! My family and I have been going through so much this year. God has truly broken us all down to be able to build us back up in Him! Thank you for sharing this with us, you are not alone Leigh Ann I have felt like going crazy more than I would like to admit, it is just apart of being a mamma and having so much responsibility to our families! Thank Goodness we have God on our side and He gives us Strength to face each day, I sure need it every single day! I do love the quote you shared, I think I need to send this to my husband He has been battling not being enough!! Thanks Again!

  6. I needed this today. Thank you! I had a recent revelation of my brokenness. It’s good to know that it’s actually a good thing.