To be a warrior with feet of clay sometimes means that your biggest enemy is yourself. And yet, I’m afraid there are no other types of warriors. We, all of us, cannot escape the reality that our feet are made of clay; our frames are composed of dust. Though we are called to greatness and valor, though we yearn to rise, we cannot escape the fact that weakness is imprinted deeply within us all.

Wait, What?

I know this may sound appallingly pessimistic in the ears of modern readers; after all, we live in a “Dream it; Do it” world and have been raised to cherish independence, self-reliance and personal strength. We love to believe that we have the power to rise to every challenge, the strength to continue in spite of the odds against us, and the ability to claim victory in the face of adversity. And while I am all for cheering on the warrior as they fight the battles of life, today I want to come alongside those who have had their visions of strength shattered, their hopes of victory crushed and their own weaknesses brutally revealed.

Many of you have been called to a life that you never dreamed you would be living. As a warrior, perhaps you have been entrusted with the care of a loved one – a spouse, a child, a parent. You’ve watched as your world has shrunk down to the size of the four walls of your home or a hospital room. Your mind, once actively engaged in the world, is now consumed with symptoms, test results, medication regimens, therapies and doctor appointments. Or perhaps you are walking through the midnight hours of grief, having said a final goodbye to a loved one. You pass through the days and seasons wondering when the light will return to your currently very broken world.

What About the Future?

The dreams you once had for the future now have a gaping hole in them, and you wonder if life will ever feel like life again. Whatever the pain or trial that has engulfed your life, I have no doubt that in spite of the shock and confusion, you are attempting to rise under the weight. You are striving to overcome, to be strong, to endure and to be brave.

What happens, then, when you are not. What happens when you lift your face to the brutal mirror of reality and see stamped across your face the word weak or what happens when you lash out at those you love? When you allow the bitterness and resentment to grow unchecked within your soul, what happens? What about when you run away instead of towards the one who needs you, when you hide, when you give up and when you give in? What then? And what happens when the person you want to be – the caregiver, the parent, the daughter, the spouse, the mourner that you want to be is not who you have proven yourself to be? What happens when you realize your strength is not limitless, your love not without bounds?

Falling Short of the Warrior

My life has been marked by many such moments. Moments when I have seen the real smallness of my soul. Nights when I’ve lain on the floor weeping in exhaustion, horrified at the misplaced anger, afraid of the bitterness inside me. Moments when I’ve wanted to run – to run from the situation, from the pain, from the ugliness, but most of all from myself. In those moments I’ve wanted nothing more than to separate myself from myself. I have wanted to get away from my weakness, my cowardliness, my selfishness. My failures have horrified and disgusted me. I had wanted to be brave. I had wanted to be strong. But there I was, proven to be otherwise.

In those moments, it felt as if despair would swallow me. What hope was there for a soul as ugly as mine? I just wanted to hide from myself, from others and most especially from God. How could I look into His face? How could I meet His gaze? I had failed Him. Everything He had called me to be – loving, sacrificial, compassionate – I had fallen short.

Who Has Walked This Path Before?

I met someone in one of these times of despair who seemed to meet me weakness for weakness, failing for failing, and who knew a thing or two about self-loathing and God-dreading.

His name was Peter. You know him as well… Peter the apostle: the one who had great visions of standing by the side of Christ come what may; the one who declared his willingness to even die with Christ if need be. He, like myself, then faced a moment of stark self-realization. His courage, his commitment, his love and strength were put to the test and found wanting. He denied his dearest friend; he turned away from his Savior in his moment of need. He ran away instead of to his beloved’s side.

Peter was compelled to look directly into the unflattering mirror of reality; and, like me, he saw the word: weak etched across his face. He saw cowardice, self-love, frailty; like me, he tried to run. Peter ran from his moment of self-revelation and according to Luke 22:62, he “wept bitterly.” He was broken and disgusted. He despaired and, like me, he didn’t know where to turn.

A Warrior Through Our Failures

But Peter’s story gives us a clear and direct picture of how Christ views us in our moments of weakness. It reveals God’s heart concerning the failures of His children. There is no doubt that Peter failed on the night of Jesus’s arrest; there is no doubt that Peter felt a reluctance to face his Savior following His resurrection.

The joy at seeing Christ alive had to be mingled with the guilt over their last moments together. Peter had to wonder… would Jesus receive him? Would He accept him back? And even if his beloved Friend would stoop to accept him, was it possible that He would ever rely on him again? Had his failures disqualified him forever from the love and service of his Savior? These thoughts must have been circling in Peter’s mind, for we find him after the resurrection of Christ returning to his work as a fisherman (John 21:3). Peter was crushed. His view of himself had been shaken, and his confidence in Jesus’s love had been shaken as well.

Finding Acceptance

But what do we see in Christ? How does Jesus choose to relate to Peter? From the earliest interaction with His followers, following His resurrection, Jesus makes a point of reaching out to Peter individually. The message He commissions to an angel include the words, “…Go, tell [the] disciples – and Peter – that [I am] going before you into Galilee; there you will see [me]” (Mark 16: 7, emphasis mine). Jesus makes a point of clearing away all doubt for Peter. It is as if He is saying, “Peter — I want to see YOU. I want to receive YOU. You are still mine.”

Later, Jesus gives Peter an opportunity to redeem his statements of rejection by giving him three new chances to declare his love; furthermore, Jesus bids Peter to enter His service. He asks him to labor for Him and with Him in the kingdom. Christ once and for all demonstrates His attitude towards His weak and failing followers. It can be summed up in one world: love. Jesus loves His weak children. Christ receives His frail followers. He bids us come. He bids us make right what we have put wrong and he bids us labor once more with Him and for Him. Christ crowns us with grace – giving us not the love that we deserve but rather the love that we need. He grants us not the acceptance we’ve earned but rather the acceptance for which we long.

Self Reflection

Peter’s interaction with the loving, gracious Savior has taught me where to go in my moments of painful self-realization. It has given me courage to face my God. Though my unworthiness still shakes me to the very core, I have learned that I may dare to look up into His face. The rejection I dread I’ve never found. You see, our God is a God who “knows our frame; He remembers we are but dust.” Truly, though the word weak is written across our face, He writes beneath it the words, “Yet beloved.” Time and time again He has accepted me when I have felt anything but acceptable. He has helped me repair what my sinful weakness has destroyed, and He has sent me again and again to labor in the work I love for the One I love.

Take courage in spite of your weakness. Though you are now cast down – look up. As a warrior, don’t run. Don’t hide. He knows and He loves His clay-footed warrior. Be received; be made right and enter once more into the battle.

“As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalms 103: 13-14

Warrior, are you seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. In addition, we invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.