Focus 1 (of 4)-Vulnerable Strength

Focus 1 | Vulnerable Strength

How do you admit you’re vulnerable yet remain strong at the same time?
Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
Name a movie that literally makes you laugh out loud.
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 1" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about the word underbelly.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Discuss what it looks like to grow up.

You may have noticed that, as you’ve grown up, you’ve changed the way you see the world. Where you are now is not where you were, nor is it where you will be.

Here are three questions to discuss with your group (or, if you aren’t doing this Spotlight with a group, for you to think through on your own):

  1. Is there something you thought you could do when you were young that you’re pretty sure is impossible now? 
  2. Is there something you think might be possible now that you’d have never thought possible when you were young? 
  3. Did you think you were stronger/tougher/more-able before, or do you think you’re stronger/tougher/more-able now? How do you think you’ll progress?
Watch this clip from UP. 
But before you, do consider your answer to this question:

Which character do you identify with most?
(If you didn’t already, and you’re in a group, discuss your answers to the above question now.)

Admit it—you’re not invincible.

No matter how your thinking has changed, you’ve hopefully learned one thing: you’re not invincible.

In fact, you’ve likely learned you’re invincible by learning another important lesson: things can happen that hurt you. That’s what the word vulnerable means, actually. It means “able to be wounded.” Today, let’s consider that that ability might not be the great flaw everyone says it is.

Welcome Perspective
Part of “growing up” is slowly admitting that you’re vulnerable.
Meditate on the metaphor in this song.
Listen to Carried to the Table, a song by Leeland, paints a picture of complete dependence as a person is carried to a table at which they don’t deserve to sit.

Lyrics from Carried to the Table by Leeland

Wounded and forsaken,
I was shattered by the fall.
Broken and forgotten,
feeling lost and all alone.
Summoned by the King
into the Master’s courts.
Lifted by the savior
and cradled in his arms.

I was carried to the table,
seated where I don’t belong.
Carried to the table,
swept away by his love.
And I don’t see my brokenness anymore
when I’m seated at the table of the Lord.
I’m carried to the table,
the table of the Lord.

Fighting thoughts of fear
and wondering why he called my name…
Am I good enough to share this cup?
This world has left me lame.
Even in my weakness,
the savior called my name!
In his holy presence
I’m healed and unashamed.

As I’m carried to the table,
seated where I don’t belong.
Carried to the table,
swept away by his love.
And I don’t see my brokenness anymore
when I’m seated at the table of the Lord.
I’m carried to the table,
the table of the Lord.

You carried me, my God.
You carried me.
Say it slowly: Meh-fi-bow-sheth.
Read the Bible story that inspired the song, Carried to the Table—the story of King David and Mephibosheth, the grandson of King Saul (who had relentlessly tried to kill David).

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

2 Samuel 9

Mephibosheth couldn’t walk, and he was one of the only remaining descendants of a forsaken king. He was vulnerable.

Write down your vulnerabilities.

StrengthsFinder is an increasingly popular tool for maximizing the gifts of each person on a team. It involves taking a long(ish) quiz that tells you where you seem to be uniquely gifted.

(Get ready, because what we’re about to do is pretty much the exact opposite of that.)

Follow these steps to get ready and begin this activity:
  1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (or your favorite note-taking app).
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  3. Create a list of your vulnerabilities during the allotted time.
    1. Where are you weak?
    2. Where can you be manipulated, exploited, distracted, and outperformed?
    3. If someone was trying to hurt you, where would they aim? 
  4. Share one of your vulnerabilities with your group, once the timer goes off. (If you’re doing the Spotlight alone, you’re off the hook.)

Rejoice in your weaknesses.

We’ll talk about how God does this in the Learn section of this Spotlight, but suffice it to say for now that you can rejoice in these weaknesses, just like the Apostle Paul did.

I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.

2 Corinthians 12:5b–12
Worship Perspective
It’s not just acceptable to admit your weaknesses, there’s real power in it.
Take a look at the vulnerability of Jesus.
As you read this section, count how many of these words are about Jesus being able-to-be-harmed.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:4–7

Next, listen to those same words set to music.

Finally, discuss these verses using the questions below:

  1. Did hearing these verses (in this musical form) bring out or emphasize anything else to you? 
  2. “By his wounds, we are healed,” not by his strength. Do you agree with that idea?
  3. Why did Jesus’ wounds “work”? That is, why didn’t he just kill Satan and stand victorious? 
  4. At the end of the day, who can one’s wounds actually help? 

Revisit your list from earlier.
Grab the list of weaknesses/vulnerabilities that you made during the Worship section of this Spotlight.

Follow these steps to take the exercise even further. (If you’ve thought of anything else to add, add it right away.)

  1. First, add anything else you may have thought of since you first wrote the list.
  2. Then circle or bold any of the items on your vulnerabilities list that are inspired by past wounds.
  3. Underline any of the items on your list that are currently making your life difficult. 
  4. Draw a square around or italicize any of the items that are really going to hurt in the future if they are ever exploited—and therefore make you want to protect yourself ASAP. 
  5. Pause here. Share with the group any new insights about your list or about vulnerabilities that have come through this process.

(Keep your list nearby, as we’ll revisit it again shortly).
Answer this: Are two better than one?

(When it comes to Sith lords in the Star Wars universe, nope.)

Biblically, and when it comes to weakness, yes.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

Again, grab your list of vulnerabilities. For each item on your list, especially those that you just gave extra attention to in some way, write the name of somebody whose strengths might help you in your vulnerability.

Learn Perspective
Where you can be hurt and where you can be protected are the same places.
Help someone help you.
There is something inside of us that yearns to help people. And it feels good to help someone. Just as you want to help others, others also want to help you.

(If you're in a group, everyone can do the following activity privately.)

  1. Set a timer for three minutes. During that time, write down all the ways in which you might need (or simply appreciate) help in your life.
  2. Restart your timer—again, setting it for three minutes. During that time, write down all the people (whether specific people or generic groups of people) that might be able to help you with your needs.
  3. Again, set your timer for three minutes. This time around, spend your time praying for ways in which the help you need may come to you—through God, through others, through you. 
  4. Finally, if you feel up for the task, commit to asking at least ONE of the people (or groups) from your list to help you with one of the needs from your list this week. (And, of course, continue to ask God for his helping hand, too.)

As selfish as that exercise may have felt, it's not. People truly WANT to help you. And people helping you will only increase your desire to help others.

There. You did it. You helped someone. And you did it simply by allowing someone to help you!
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
There are real people who want to help real people to be real people.
Pray for someone to help with your vulnerability.

Hopefully, you’ve seen today how these personal vulnerabilities become opportunities to seek help and gain the strength that comes from a helper. Ask God for help protecting yourself where you are vulnerable. If you already have someone in mind, ask directly that God would connect you to them.

If you’re in a group, go around the room and let each person have the opportunity to pray about one of their vulnerabilities. If you’re uncomfortable doing so and would prefer to keep it between you and God, feel free to pass!
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
Two are better than one. If either falls, one can help the other up.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.

Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.                          

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