Monday, December 26, 2011

Nothing is impossible...

 I've never been a person who was "on top" of things.  I've never looked like I was a potential candidate for a modeling agency or a possible stand-in for someone in high office.  I'm the type of person who inadvertently "wears" their lunch on their clothes (hence, no light-colored dresses, tops, or jackets), sits in church with the label sticking out of the back of their dress, and often can be seen with the proverbial foot sticking out of my mouth.
    As a result, I tend to see others as perfect (or at least more perfect than I am) and am easily intimidated.  This morning I was reading in the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible edited by Sarah Young and I came across a devotional about weaknesses (p. 1685).    The devotional is drawn from these Bible passages:  II Corinthians 12:9;  Jeremiah 9:23, 24; Psalm 34:2; and I Peter 2:9.  Of these, I am most familiar with the II Corinthians 12 passage, verses 9-10.
    And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
   I've lived through almost six decades so it's not surprising that I've encountered plenty of opportunities to experience weakness, i.e., inadequacy,  in some although not all of the situations listed above.  Certainly, whatever I've experienced would be nothing compared to what other believers endure in countries where Christians are persecuted. 
  Nonetheless, I have failed test after test.  At one point in my life, after repeatedly failing to show love to someone who was a thorn in my flesh (if you haven't encountered anyone like that, it's because you haven't lived very long...), I was trying to pray but not making much headway due to discouragement and feelings of "poor, pitiful me" - that type of thing.  When suddenly God got my attention. 
  I won't go into the details but I will say that within a few minutes I went from feeling sorry for myself to an acute awareness of my own sinfulness.  At that point, I began to confess every sin I was aware of committing - and it was pretty good list!  Then I began to praise God for all I was worth!
  After about 30 minutes of this 180 degree turnaround in my prayers, a verse began to scroll through my mind.  That's the only way I can describe it.  It was not a verse I ever remembered memorizing and to this day, I still can't say it from memory. But at that time, as near as I could tell (and I looked it up immediately after my prayer time), the first sentence of that verse went through my mind in slow motion with total accuracy.  It was II Corinthians 12:10.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
   As I lay there alone in my room, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God was convicting me - I had not been willing to endure weaknesses and insults for the sake of His Son.  I "got that".  I understood that He was correcting me.
  What I couldn't quite grasp - and even today cannot fully explain - was the fact that while I was being corrected, I felt totally wrapped in acceptance.  In fact, I felt an acceptance and a love at that point like I've never felt before and haven't felt sense. 
  Later, as I thought about it, I kept telling myself, "That's not how it works...  It's like a law of the universe that when you are being chastised, you feel crummy... lacking...rejected.    So how could I feel totally, completely accepted and loved while my Heavenly Abba was pointing out sin in my life?"
  To this day, I can't quite reconcile what I knew with what I felt; I just know that it happened.
  After this experience, things changed. I didn't change. But God's power was available in my situation in a way that it hadn't been before, ala II Cor. 12:9  "..for My strength is made perfect in weakness."   I acknowledged my weakness, accepted His correction, basked in His love, and experienced His strength. Weird, I know. But I think that's how it works in God's economy.
   This morning, in the Sarah Young devotional that I read, she recommended for us weak, whiny people (as opposed to the proud, got-it-all-together people) that instead of getting bogged down in our failures, we look for God's power to shine through our weaknesses. And instead of complaining about our inadequacies (or the situations that highlight our inadequacies), that we brag about our Heavenly Abba in the same way that small children love to brag about their dads.
   It's a thought and something that I'm going to try to hang onto as I go into the new year.
   As the Bible says, for with our Abba nothing is impossible. (Loose paraphrase!)  

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