When You Feel Like the Caboose
“…when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My hands were clammy. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. A familiar knot in the pit of my stomach threatened to push me toward the restroom, and my dry tongue began cleave to the roof of my mouth. It was 10:25 a.m. In just five more minutes the dreaded event would begin.
When I was in the first grade, the one academic exercise I feared more than any other was the spelling train. It was sheer torture—at least for me.
“Okay, students,” Mrs. March would say. “Everyone pick up your chairs and move them over to the chalk board. It’s time for the spelling train.”
Twenty first graders slipped their munchkin-sized chairs from their desks to form a semi-circle around our chief engineer. I always put mine at the end.
“Now remember the rules,” she explained. “I am going to hold up a flash card. If you read the word correctly, you get to go to the front of the train. If you miss it, you have to go to the caboose.”
She held up the cards one by one, and the class chugged along at a quick pace. Dog. Sally. Bob. Spot. Red. Blue. Mother. Stop. Run. Then it was my turn.
“Sharon, what is this word?”
Well, more often than not I had no idea. And when that happened, I would either guess wrong or sit in silence. I spent most of my time in the first grade spelling train in the caboose.
As the year progressed, I did move up into the passenger cars a few times, but usually I didn’t stay there long enough to keep the seat warm. There was one particular word that kept me from ever visiting the engine: T-h-e. So Mrs. March decided she was going to help me. For two weeks, she made me wear a name tag that read “THE” plastered on my chest like the scarlet letter. I can still remember kids coming up to me on the playground, pointing at THE on my chest, and saying, “Hey, what’s that? Why are you wearing that? Is your name The? Are you stupid?”
Eventually I did learn how to spell the word t-h-e, but that’s not all I learned. I learned that I was stupid; not as smart as everybody else; and just not good enough. But you know what? That wasn’t true. Those were lies from the enemy. And it took many years for God to hold me by the hand and help me see myself as He sees me: a uniquely created, dearly loved, completely forgiven, and totally accepted child of God who is capable of doing everything He has called me to do by the power of the Holy Spirit.
That was more than forty years ago, and now I have found joy in stringing written words together. I’ve noticed that life has many unusual twists and turns when God is at the helm. He takes our greatest weaknesses and turns them into our grandest strengths. That’s what happens when we turn our lives over to Him—we get out of the caboose and get to ride up with the chief engineer to places we never imagined possible. When we are weak, then He is strong.
Where are you in the train of life right now? If you’re hiding in the back, listen closely and you just might hear God calling you up front where you belong.
Dear Heavenly Father, it’s amazing to think of all You have done in my life. You have taken my greatest weaknesses and turned them into my greatest strengths. When I am weak, through the power of the Holy Spirit I am strong. Thank You for working in me and through me. And help me never to believe the lies of the enemy that say I’m not enough again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you ever feel like you are in life’s caboose? Always at the back? f so, click over to my free living life resources and read the list of Your New Identity in Christ.
Now pick three of those and tell me which ones mean the most to you on my blog page.
For extra encouragement on seeing yourself as God sees you, read 2 Corinthians 11:1–12:10.
More from the Girlfriends
Do you love a good story? I do! Stories tug at the heart and open the eyes to the truths of Scripture in a way only God can do. I have complied 100 of my favorite stories and devotions into one book titled, Listening to God Day-by-Day. It is the perfect book for a quick pick-me-up before you start your busy day or a sweet dreams closure before you turn off the bedside lamp at night. And here’s some good news, this book is specially priced for the month of June. Get one for yourself, and we’ll include another free for you to share. It won’t show up on your receipt, but we’ll make sure it is included in your package.
And if you’re struggling with feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy, check out my book Becoming Spiritually Beautiful to learn how I overcame those inhibiting emotions in my own life.
Originally published Tuesday, 18 June 2013.