Words of Hope — Not by Might

When I was a young girl in Birmingham, Alabama, mustard became available for purchase in a new plastic bottle. Before this new packaging, we had glass jars for mustard which we would access with a knife or spoon. This new container allowed you to squeeze out the right amount of mustard onto your plate or burger. Dad was super enthusiastic to try this new mustard container. He started to squeeze, but nothing came out. Mom said, “Honey, you’re not squeezing hard enough.” 

Dad puts all his muscle into it. Suddenly, a vast bang resounded through the kitchen. Mustard splattered across the room, dripped from the ceiling, and completely drenched Dad. We sat there for a second in utter shock. Then mom said, “Fred, I thought you would know to open it first.” Dad cackled his amazing laugh with mustard swinging off the end of his nose. 

Dad often told me that as much as we try to control life and make things happen for ourselves, we cannot muster enough power to control our future. Scripture says, “It’s not by might nor by power but by my spirit says the Lord.” I’ve learned the hard way, just like Dad when I try to control my life through my strength. It’s through slowing down, surrender, and willingness to open my life to God that I find I am in the right place.  

These verses that Dad and I memorized were very comforting in his final days. Dad loved to be a “make it happen” person, but he found his greatest strength in surrender.

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.” 

– Corinthians 12: 9-10