**The Sweet Invitation of Inadequacy
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8 (NIV)
“I am not enough.”
For years, these four words were banned from my vocabulary, but they attacked me with full force when I felt inadequate. In those moments, I reminded myself of all the great things I was doing, hoping to convince myself those four words were not true.
While I thought I was combatting a lie, I found myself running to another lie:
I have to prove I’m enough for people by pleasing them, enough for myself by meeting my high standards, and enough for God by being good.
In trying to prove I could be enough on my own, I wound up sacrificing my values, my freedom and ultimately the truths of the gospel. Outperforming my inadequacy was outright exhausting.
Inadequacy presents us with an invitation to trust. But I’ve learned we can take our trust and plant it in one of two places: We can sow it in the salt lands or by the stream.
In Jeremiah 17, God paints a picture of two different kinds of trust. He declares that the person who trusts in herself resembles a desert shrub planted in a parched, deserted salt land. (Jeremiah 17:5-6) When we place our trust in our own righteousness, strength and resources, we resist the need for God as our hearts slowly turn inward and away from Him.
When our response to inadequacy is self-reliance, our lives do not bear the fruit of godliness. Instead, we bear the weight of the excessive need to prove, protect and perform.
Yet those who place their trust and confidence in the Lord are described this way:
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
When we don’t run from our lack but rather lean on God, who has no lack, it is like planting our trust by the stream of Living Water, Jesus. Just like the tree, we are in a frequent state of dependence on this stream; He is the lifeblood running through our veins. In this posture, we flourish and bear the fruit of God’s provision, power and peace.
We can view inadequacy as a disqualification that propels us to strive to be enough. Or we can view it as an invitation that compels us to lean on Christ and let Him be enough.
When we lean into our lack, we not only experience for ourselves the rich fruit of God’s provision, power and peace, but our lives bear the evidence that He is working in us.
Friends, when we come up against inadequacy and don’t feel like we’re enough, it can drive us to be self-sufficient or Spirit-dependent. Self-sufficient lives say, “Look at me!” Spirit-dependent lives cry, “Look at Him!”
We don’t have to panic when we’re planted in places where we come face to face with our own shortcomings. We can lean into them and watch God do something we couldn’t possibly have done without Him.
Lord, a life that is free of needing You is not a life I want. Thank You that I can rest in the face of inadequacy because my hope is not in what I can do but in the reality that You are enough. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to perform, prove and strive for the acceptance of God and others, grab a copy of Kaitlin Garrison’s brand-new book, Sweet Relief: How the Gospel Frees Us from a Life of Striving. Click here to order your copy today!
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Colossians 1:28-29, “We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.” (CSB)
In which areas of your life do you naturally find yourself responding to feelings of inadequacy through self-reliance? How can you instead rely on Christ?
Let’s keep the conversation going! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2022 by Kaitlin Garrison. All rights reserved.