“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability....To be alive is to be vulnerable,” says Madeleine L’Engle.
Jesus seems to agree.
During Lent we follow Jesus and journey into the wildness of the wilderness and find the power of vulnerability.
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
As all surfers and body-surfers can attest, the waves of the ocean promise freedom. The power of the waves to elevate you and push you along imparts a feeling of grace and lightness. If you’re reckless, though, the relentless power of the pounding waves portends doom and destruction. I could recount numerous stories from my reckless youth of scrapes and near loss of life out in the surf. As you age, you learn to embrace your vulnerability and not to test fate or God.
That’s precisely what Jesus demonstrates by resisting satanic temptation to publicly demonstrate his glory with a miraculous feat. He knows that risky feats of power do not result in glory, but only in injury or arrogant pride.
How can we, like Jesus, avoid the trap of self-glorification and pride? It starts with acknowledging our vulnerability, and then using it as a tool to glorify God.
Loving God, help me to know that I am loved, not in spite of my vulnerability, but because of it. Amen.
May God the creator empower you to see your vulnerability as your source of strength, prompting you to reach out to the vulnerable and marginalized in your life.
May God the servant cultivate abundant love in you, allowing you to display your truest and most vulnerable self.
May God the comforter give you enough peace for you to share your insecurities and vulnerabilities with the world.