October 27, 1858 a small, sickly baby boy was born. The baby was underweight, suffering from under-developed lungs and an over-all poor health. It was not simply the health that became an issue but the way his poor health began to mold him. As the baby grew into a young boy affectionately named “Teddy,” he found himself stricken with asthma, brooding in solitude and in books because the outside world was too harsh and difficult for his feeble condition.
Pail and small the young boy spent most of his days indoors, wondering at the great adventure right outside his window, but his initiative was still hampered by his inability to overcome his in-born weaknesses. Teddy now faced a crossroads in his life. He had reached the age where he recognized the potential that was offered to him, yet became fully aware of his own inadequacies. As time passed and Teddy grew older his resolve to “live” became greater and greater. Teddy’s road that diverged in the directions of coping with life or really living life became very apparent. Suddenly The Lion within Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt roared and he set his resolve and began his famed journey as one of America’s must adventurous and “alive” Presidents that ever lived; The President known as “The Lion in the Whitehouse.”
Me and My Weaknesses
We are all born into this world kicking and screaming with weaknesses all our own. Weaknesses that despite our own attempts of disregard or repression still seem to linger.
Jesus says to us in Mark 10:18 “…no one is good except God alone…” (NAS). We all have our very own weaknesses despite what we might be telling ourselves. It seems very frequently that mine are so very apparent. Perhaps there is a large neon sign on my back, maybe even a flashing neon sign with that annoying buzzing noise that alerts everyone as I pass by. As I face certain situations the buzzing will even get louder, the flashing will gleam faster, and my clumsy attempts to cover it up just encourages more and more of that annoying glow.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NAS)
I am a Christian called to a life of obedience and adventure but what am I to do with my big stupid sign, my very un-cheerful buzzing; my very own weaknesses. Maybe if I sit with my back against the corner of a solid rock wall, perhaps with a comfortable canopy to keep me out of the rain and sun, no one will ever know of my buzzing and blinking, I can hide my weakness, just as Teddy began to do, and yet the verse rings in my head “My grace is sufficient for you…”
You see an aspect that is so easily looked over in our life, and so difficult to even understand why, is that we were created with our weaknesses. “WHAT LORD ?!? You built me so that we operate inefficiently and sometimes not at all.” I know that this is a simple concept to most, but let me operate under the assumption that many of you reading this are like me and understand the concept, but continue to live under the strict guidelines of what we feel our limitations will allow. We were created with a void, a void not for us to compensate for or avoid, but to allow the master craftsman to fill. God made a deficiency in us so that we could understand the power of Him in us. You see we were fashioned with an innate characteristic of weakness in us so that we would have a constant reminder of not only our need of our Lord, but also the knowledge that he loves us in his continual pouring out in us.
We were created with a deficiency, but in our weakness His power is made perfect. Therefore all of us were created to succeed, succeed not on our own part, but on the acceptance of our own weaknesses and His hand through it.
Let’s travel back too looking at Teddy. At the age of 22 he graduated from Harvard Law School with Magna Cum Laude. At this point Teddy had pursued and excelled in the following areas horseback riding, tennis, hiking, swimming, hunting, polo, rowing, wrestling, boxing, and jujitsu, overcoming his earlier distress at anything that taxed his body. Along with his physical success he was already building a political following, opportunities were opening up all around Teddy, his aggressive pursuance to accept his weakness and not be constrained by them had allowed him new opportunities that he could have ever dreamed. But, his success was short lived after the birth of his first daughter his wife Alice passed away, and Teddy picked up and left for the west leaving his only daughter in the care of his sister. He withdrew to a ranch that he purchased and decided to live out the rest of his days in pain and seclusion.
It is not simply that I must deal with my own weaknesses, but now as I grow older I discover that accepting and overcoming my deficiencies through the power of God is simply the knowledge I must come to in the classroom of life. I am now coming to realize that life itself is out there to test my resolve. I have discovered in pointless practice that it is not enough that I simply learn a thing and fully grasp the knowledge of it and allow it to change me, but when life happens reject this thing and run back to square one. God has called us to be over-comers.
Reader, we have come to the understanding of our weaknesses, and God’s power in it, but now we must pursue a life that proves that we trust in Him that has filled our void and taken our weaknesses. God has called us to be not only hearers of His Word but doers as well. Our Lord has allowed us to be successful apart from our environment because we share in an eternal inheritance, and a constant presence and support of Him who has overcome the world. Life will continue to deal it’s hand out to all of us, but we must not allow it to distract us from the truth that God has placed in us and run with all perseverance to live the life that our Lord has set before us.
Teddy was stuck in a life hole. But even in the sorrow and grief his trust in God, allowed his clear vision to shine through and the lion roared within him once again. He rose up and upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he raised a group of cowboy volunteers and formed the “Rough Riders” and made his gallant charge up San Juan Hill. He entered back into public service, ultimately serving as president of the United States. In his time in office he pursued national and moral character for the whole nation. He pushed for equal rights for women in voting, working, and education. He defied congress and established 230 million acres as a national preserve daring them to challenge him, they never did. Teddy attacked big business when no one else would, he was the first American to win the Noble Peace Prize; he pursued a greatness that few Presidents ever achieved in a time that did not afford him a world crisis to create it for him. In 1912 Teddy was shot point blank by a deranged man, survived it and when on to carry out many more exploits.
Finally, On January 6, 1919, having survived numerous brushes with death throughout an action-packed life, at the age of 60 TR died quietly in his sleep from a coronary embolism at his Sagamore Hill home. His son sent a one-sentence telegram: “The old Lion is Dead,” Vice President Thomas Marshall commented, “Death had to take him while sleeping. If he had been awake there would have been a fight.”
The Sleeping Lion Within Us
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (NAS)
We have all been called to victory. God has anointed us not with a Spirit of fear but one of overcoming power. We must realize that our weakness are not there to fit us into our social status quo, but to give us an opportunity to advance beyond our normal limitations, all we have to do is ask our Lord to do it in us.
I am not quite sure where America would be today should the “Old Lion” Teddy have decided to linger his days on his boyhood porch, or settle for his lonely ranch. As Christians under the power and direction of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we must determine to become vulnerable and trust our lives into the hands of the one who made us. Don’t be fooled this not always the easiest road, Teddy was shot several times, acquired malaria, lost his wife and countless other difficulties, but he lived a life that only God could have provided.
Reader, take a leap of faith in our lord if even in a small area of your life and feel the overwhelming arms of God around you. Cast your weaknesses into the hands of our Savior and step out of the boat as Peter did. Let the lion that God has placed in you come to life and rejoice in the adventure that God has laid out before you; for he is very near to share every moment with you.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs-even though checkered by failure than to take rank with these poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much. Be wise, they live in the gray twilight that know not of victory, nor defeat. Nor true sorrow nor true love.
Originally Published: July 16, 2003