I’ve been sitting on my couch for a while this morning, staring into space, imagining what strength is supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about strength according to different standards. Like who defines strength? What makes something or someone strong? And what does it look like?
Well, because I love a good word picture, and because I believe it may offer some additional clarity – I want to introduce 2 more phrases into our conversation today.
Overt Strength and Covert Strength
When things are done publicly and in front of others, it’s overt by nature. It may not be by choice, but Overt Strength attracts some kind of attention. I imagine overt strength looking like the new superhero movie that’s out. When people complete in physical competitions, ranging anywhere from a 5K to an Ironman – I’d argue overt strength. It can be a battle over cancer, ringing the bell at a last chemo appointment. When the addict asks for help, and checks into rehab, that takes overt strength.
The longer I sit here though, more subtle things come to mind. They’re what we’re going to call Covert Strength. Covert Strength is often concealed, hidden from the public eye. It may be shallow or deep and excruciatingly hard, but covert strength is likely the thing you feel called to do, but keep private. Whether it’s the 5AM workout, the silent prayer or confession, the choice to stay instead of go, the decision you knew you had to make, the offer you turned down, the fast you didn’t break – covert strength is different because it doesn’t receive the applause of man, because it’s an inward decision or action.
Often, overt strength is the result of a lot of practice with covert strength. Sometimes strength is like a shape-shifter, taking on different forms and implications.
At times, strength is a combination of mind, body, and soul effort. To display strength in the deepest, darkest moments of our lives, will be the work of God as we give absolutely everything we’ve got to seek His glory, despite the seemingly insurmountable circumstances in front of us.
I heard Beth Moore recently say this 5 word phrase for the journey that is following Christ: “Just keep getting back up.”
Isn’t that Holy Grit?!? Just. keep. getting. back. up.
We know we’ll trip and fall. We know me may get knocked down. It may not look graceful or poised, we may crawl for a bit, bloodstained and bruised, but we’re not going to stay down forever. We will get back up, rinse off, rest, and get right back out there.
If you remember our conversation back in Week 1 about ‘shallow tough’ and ‘deep and excruciating tough’ we discussed the varying levels of difficult things. We’ve made the inference that as we work through daily ‘shallow tough’ – we prepare ourselves for ‘deep tough.’
We proclaimed Mark 12:30 as our lantern verse and have used that as our guide throughout the discussion of how to implement and live out Holy Grit. Today I want to talk about Colossians 1:10-12, because it encompasses so much of what we’re trying to do together. We’re going to specifically look at The Message translation, because they way it is worded so beautifully fits almost everything we’ve been focusing on.
Here it is:
“We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn to do your work. We pray you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth, but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
There are several things here I want to break down together. But first, let’s just sit on the beauty of these words. Re-read, and pray them over yourself today.
I have a few things I’m going to point out about our passage – but what phrase or idea stands out to you?
The book of Colossians was written by Paul, likely during one of his prison stays. He wrote to the Church of Colossae, encouraging and challenging them within their day-to-day lives. As he opens – Paul expresses some specific prayer requests for them. Within his prayer, we see some pretty spectacular language about strength and holy living.
In the latter part of verse 10, I love how the Message words the text: “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.” The New Living Translation is similar: “All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”
Isn’t that so neat? The more we learn about God, we more we’ll learn about ourselves.
Then verses 1:11-12 could pretty much be another working definition for Holy Grit:
- The strength to stick it out over the long haul
- Not grim strength, but glory-strength
- Enduring the unendurable, spilling over into joy
- Strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful
ESV Study Bible says this about verse 11: “The purpose of God-given power is to provide the divine strength needed for the believer to attain Christian virtues, to persevere in the faith, to resist temptation and deceitful teachers, and so to know the joy of the Lord.”
So if you don’t mind, let’s take a look at that term ‘glory-strength’
Doxa, the Greek transliteration for glory can be defined like this: ‘the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven’
Kratos, the Greek for strength here, can mean ‘power and mighty deed,’ but can also be similar to vigor.
I absolutely love this, because isn’t that just what we need? A little blessed vigor to get us up off the couch sometimes? When the bully of comparison exhausts us, it will be the glory-strength that keeps us in the fight.
It will be glory-strength that helps us endure the unendurable. It is glory-strength that does the unexplainable, and spills over into joy.
But let me be quick to check my ego here and remind myself that glory-strength is a gift. It’s given to us, and we must choose to accept the gift. Much like Holy Grit – it’s attainable and within our reach.
The gifts of Holy Grit and glory-strength will operate in both overt and covert ways. Much like the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:15-30 (ADD HYPERLINK), I believe God has given each of us a set of talents. While the original Greek doesn’t translate as singing, dancing, cooking, teaching or decorating – but isn’t it awesome that God, the creator of all things and all languages, allows the word talent to mean something to us here and now?
Anyways, within each of our lives and circumstances, situations, seasons, etc – I visualize the Lord giving us things that He means for us to grow, nurture, try out for, get better at, step up to the plate for, etc.
These things are perhaps our ‘talents’ – and it will be the utilization of a saved soul, pure heart, clear mind, and glory-strength to return to the Lord 10 talents instead of 5, 4 instead of 2, 2 instead of 1.
And like Colossians 1:12 says in the Message “thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (emphasis mine)
He makes us strong enough to take part in the journey and adventure of turning the 5 into 10. He enables glory-strength within us to turn 2 talents into 4. He says “Come, and see, all that is bright and beautiful.”
Will there be chaos? Yup.
Exhaustion? A lot..
Discord with loved ones? Likely.
But as Faithlife Study Bible puts it so well, “(the knowledge of God) refers to experiential knowledge, not just intellectual understanding. As believers trust and obey God’s will, they become more and more acquainted with God’s ways and with God himself.”
So wherever you are today – with your 1, 2, or 5 talents – know that God means for us to grow, take risks, get out there, and get tough. I mean really though, isn’t is a magnificent thing that God created us to be graceful warrior women, poised, and calm, yet also fierce? Our creator doesn’t mean for us to be cowering weaklings, afraid to speak or stand up.
There’s this wrestle in our souls, longing to become the holy ones He calls out. The example we set, and the path we’ll pave in the process might be shocking to some, and freeing to others.
Holy Grit will be the action of walking the thing out. Living in the tension of worship and warfare, loving our God and people well, will be tough, and will take overt and covert strength – but most definitely glory-strength.
When we are operating from a place of glory-strength, the shallow tough won’t be the end of us, and neither will the deep and excruciatingly tough. What some will see as the destruction of you, will actually be the rebuilding and remaking of you.
As we work through the rest of the week together, we’re going to dive into our word study of strength, and our time of Bible Study together. I believe God has more for us in this life than we can even imagine. I so desperately want to be strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. I know you do, too.
Love to you and yours,
P.S. Don’t forget to enter our $50 giveaway with SheisClothedinStrength! Click the link below to enter.