I learned a new word on Friday. It’s the Greek word “ischyo” and it means to have force, to be able, avail, can do, could, to be strong, to have power, wield power, to be a force, to be serviceable. And there’s more but basically, it’s one of those words a woman wants to “be.” I want to be all of this. I’d like it to be said about me, “Pam is able. Pam has force and is a force. Pam can and could and did. Pam is strong and has power.”
Yep, that would be nice.
Truth be known, I’ve tried to harness this word. I’ve tried to do it all and to be it all. And sometimes, unknowingly, like with the recent job I applied for. It sounded so great. A true opportunity. And because my current job will be completed by the end of the year, I thought the time to move was now.
I didn’t take into account the kids being home for Summer. I didn’t think about all I would NOT be able to do in taking on a second job. Instead, I convinced myself a 2nd job was God’s plan. And so, the day I had the interview, I wore the two bracelets in the photo. “You’ve got this,” I thought. Yes! I can do this…
I’ve got this because God’s got me, chorused through my brain.
Sure enough, I did get it. I got that 2nd job and put all my energy into it. I worked so hard. There, I did. But when I came home, I was pretty much depleted. And because little energy was left over, I couldn’t do. At home, I couldn’t. No force or strength or power to wield there. Thus, I quickly deduced, I cannot do it all. Because I could not be everything to all persons.
In the trying, I immediately felt the strain and pressure. And I cracked. The floodgates opened up one night and I let it all out on my husband. The man I’ve been married to 23 years this coming weekend.
Yes, I broke just like my beaded bracelet. The one I wore to that job interview. Within days, the threads came loose dropping beads all over the place. And had I been more alert, I would have noticed the picture it provided sooner. Prophetic, almost.
“This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:30
I like that word I found. Ischyo. It’s what I want to be. Able and capable and strong. And I was disappointed when I didn’t encapsulate the meanings. Sad I couldn’t finish what I started. I felt I let people down because I gave my notice after three weeks. But you know, I’m not the only one who cannot do it all. Interestingly, I found quite a few examples in God’s word where others could not do, either.
At times, His disciples could not. And there were people who could not answer. One man could not dig and others were not able to bear. The story that really grabbed me, and taught me the most, was about some traveling Jewish exorcists. They saw Paul preaching and performing mighty deeds and so, they attempted to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached.
I surmise they attempted to do something beyond what they were called to do. The demon said, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?” That’s when the possessed man leapt onto the exorcists. He subdued and overpowered them, prevailing against those who attempted to do, leaving the doers naked and wounded and running. If anything good came out of it, it’s that everyone heard and the name of the Lord was magnified…
And the word of the Lord grew greatly and prevailed. At first, evil prevailed against those who attempted too much but in the end, God’s word prevailed.
Prevailed. This is the Greek word “ischyo.” It’s the one I’m so fond of. The one I wish to encapsulate. And this story? I kind of see me in there. I attempted to do something beyond what God called me to do. I worked hard and the result was defeat. I found myself whooped and on the ground.
However, I find myself stirred to write this. To share. Thus, God’s word goes forth. It may be true busyness prevailed against me but in the end, God’s word prevails. And His word doesn’t return void.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Ischyo. It’s a great word. It means “can do” as we see in the above verse. And what a lesson for me. Yes, I can do all things through Christ, but the question is, did He call me to do it? If not, none of the jewelry I wear touting encouraging quotes means a thing. If God didn’t call me to it, then I don’t got this.
Oh, I may think I’ve got it. Till I don’t. Till I crack under the pressure of too many irons in the fire and unload on those I love best. Till the evidence of my life proves I most certainly don’t got this. That’s when I know some things are just not mine to do. Not now.
But some things are. Like the belief He calls me to. If I can believe, all things are possible. So says His word. And He calls me to put on the whole armor of God, so I may be able to stand and able to withstand. He calls me to pick up the shield of faith so I will be able to quench fiery darts. He calls me to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save my soul. Yes, the word of grace, is able to build me up. And He calls me to prayer, which avails much.
Avail. There’s that word again. Ischyo. It means to have force, to be able, avail, can do, could, to be strong. All the things I’d like to be. But now, I know. Not by my might, but by His. For God is able and He is strong (Eph 3:20). And no man is able to pluck me from His hand. Yes, my God is able and He did.
God already did it it all.
I saw a commercial I despise over the weekend. I probably shouldn’t but I feel it’s part of the problem women face in society. This particular woman can do everything. She makes sourdough bread, from start to finish. She prints t-shirts, paints her house and changes out car parts. She does it all. She is the picture of the can-do woman and she is who we aspire to be.
What I noticed, though, is there are no children in the home. Maybe because she’s older. But also, there isn’t a man. And she doesn’t seem to need one. As I said, she can do it all, and does so well.
I can’t stand this commercial because it’s not true to life. At least not to mine. Because experience teaches that though we might be able to do it all, we can’t do it all at once. Not very well. And when (not if) we try, some things are left undone. Because God does not call us to do everything. That’s why I love the amplified version of Philippians 4:13:
I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]
I can do all things God calls me to through Christ. That’s when I’ve got it because He’s got me…
In May and early June, I thought I did. Till I didn’t. I didn’t consider the cost of all my “can doing”. And in the end, I became a product of my own productivity. My life produced a stressful, brittle woman who snapped. And within weeks, I realized the best thing I could do (for myself and my loved ones) was to become a little less productive. To be still and to let God produce in me what He wanted to.
I am convinced and confident that He who began a good work in you will (continue to) perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus… Philippians 1:6
The parable of the builder has meant more to me than ever these past months. One, because of my recent experience. I didn’t consider the cost of what I was building. I didn’t calculate properly and was unable to finish what I’d begun. But two, I think I was building the wrong thing. It’s quite possible I was living under the shadow of words spoken over me when I was so young…
A little boy said, “Nah, you can’t do it. She can, but you can’t.” I’ve never forgotten how that made me feel. So incapable. So weak and ineffective. Thus, from 19 years on, I’ve been trying to prove to the world that I can. I can, too. And I can do it all at once. That’s when I overextend, though, because my budget’s not big enough for what I’m trying to build. And it never will be.
No, I’m not rich enough to construct myself into the form the world admires. But see, I don’t have to. More, God’s doesn’t call me to. Because He already built me the way He wanted. More, He had to consider the cost. And this is the main reason the parable of the builder has come to mean so much.
See, God considered the cost in making me and determined I was worth the price. And it was oh, so costly, for it cost Him His Son. That’s the price God paid to finish me. That’s what He paid for me and it’s why I don’t have to do it all.
Thus, if I ever find my do-it-all, can-do behavior has anything to do with the building or finishing of me, it’s an empty work. One I’m not called to do. A work I cannot do. Because I’ve already been finished by God.
For in Christ, I am complete.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10