Sunday, July 03, 2005
Maybe there's more to this than meets the eye
2 Corinthians 12: 1-10
7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in Hi
persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
I love this inside look into our Brother Paul’s life. It’s most fitting that he’s also known as the Apostle of Grace.
So very often, as we continue our journey through life, there’s a tendency to camp at the foot of some great blessing or event. Although the location may be good or even very good, settling there can rob of us of the best. What is the best? “That I might know Him”!
Many are called, but few choose to give up the right to themselves. Becoming a ‘self for others’ is the ongoing work of grace of God in a believer’s life.
If anyone knew the grace of God, I would say it was Paul. Yet on the heels of the abundant revelations Paul received, it’s as if the Father said to him, “Oh, by the way Paul, because you have seen and heard things that are not permitted to be spoken about I’m going to give you a wonderful blessing!”
"Wow! Oh boy!” Paul must have thought. “Not only am I privy to these spectacular revelations, I’m about to get a fabulous surprise! Okay, Lord - let me have it!”
So, what was this great blessing? It was not exactly as Paul had pictured, because the Lord allowed Paul to be buffeted by a messenger of Satan. I’m sure that for most of us, stinking thinking would kick in quite effectively at this point. A messenger of…Satan? Time to brush up on Spiritual Warfare 101: ‘How to Cast Out Demons’! However, could it be that Paul (although well versed in the grace of God), needed a further and deeper revelation of Him and His grace? I see this ordeal as being used by the Father to bring Paul further along than he could possibly have gone on his own.
In my life, I recall a time of unbearable anguish and grief because of following the leading of the Lord to “be in the ministry” (a very long, sad, but ultimately wonderful story). As a result of this quest, my wife and I lost everything.
At the time, the four of us were temporarily renting the downstairs of a match-box sized duplex. I was out mowing the postage stamp of a back lawn when I sensed my Heavenly Father speaking to me. He said, “You think you have missed my best, don’t you”? Deep within my heart I knew that is exactly what I felt. I will not elaborate now, but suffice it to say, He had the cross hairs focused square upon my heart. He proceeded to ask me - had I known what was going to happen in my life, would I have signed up for it? I didn’t have to ponder on that too long. NO!!! He continued to say that in fact He had me enrolled in something so much better than any Bible School I could have chosen – that I had NOT missed his best. He was bringing about the best! The circumstances and situations didn’t change, but there was a new hope that instilled deep within my heart - the beginnings of coming to know the Truth: Christ in me the Hope of Glory.
Isn’t it amazing that there are reserved for us treasures of darkness that can become ours as we follow Him through the shadows?
I often ponder about Joseph. He said to those who betrayed him, (his own brothers) “You sold me, but God sent me. That which you intended for evil, He intended for Good.”
Jesus said that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it brings forth an abundance of fruit. Is it possible the Father does just that, buries His sons and daughters alive, so to speak, in the abject darkness…so that He can produce fruit?
As our souls come into alignment with our spirit union, maybe we, like Joseph, also can speak forth the truth: 20"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive”. And as Paul said, “I Paul, the prisoner of Christ”. Notice he did not say he was the prisoner of Rome, nor of circumstances, but the prisoner of Christ.
Living as mere mortals, governed by our souls, we will miss out on His best for us. The Holy Spirit is longing to make known His redemptive purposes in the lives of His sons, but although called, many will not pay the price, will not ‘glory in [their] infirmities’.
Ephesians 4:18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: