Yesterday, (Monday) was a difficult day in the ole noggin' (my mind.). I think it was largely due to the fact that I did not sleep well the night before. From the moment I awoke my mind was filled with racing thoughts, most of which kept telling me that I am going nowhere, nobody likes me, I am weak-willed and am not a good representation of a strong christian woman.
In addition, to all these "lovely" thoughts, I had a difficult conversation with a friend last night and was feeling all sorts of emotions around it. I have not exercised in a long time because my work out buddy has been away in another country and I am frustrated with myself because I cannot seem to get up and get out of the house to go for a jog. (Plus my knee hurts) One of my good friends moved away to Hawaii. I miss her and I am sad.
Now, please understand that I do not share all this because I am looking to complain. Life is life and things happen. I share all this because, for me, what I am seeing is, in order to live a life with the peace that surpasses all understanding and to live out my purpose I need to be making sure that I am not only reading the word of GOD everyday AND thinking ON IT but that I am leaning on His grace.
So, thankfully, after a tough day, I went outside last night to spend some, much needed, alone time with the Lord. I brought my bible with me and took a seat in a lounge chair facing the west. The sun was setting behind the hill in my back yard, the air was perfectly still and I could hear birds chirping in the trees. It had been a long time since I just sat still and spent time with God so as soon as I began to talk to him I started to tear up. In fact, I even looked away. Hmmmm. That's interesting. Why did I do that? I think it was because I was ashamed at how long it had been since I had taken the time to be with him. I grasped for the words to say to my Father but eventually, as I began to read words from the bible, my heart started to find home again in his loving embrace. The world, the shame, the heaviness, the condemnation and all the pressure I was feeling started to melt away as I sat there pouring my heart out to my Father. As usual he met me there.
I asked him if I had sinned against him and if so to please show me. I asked him to help me to not be such a perfectionist and I asked him to please help me to be courageous to keep going down the path he has placed on my life. And most of all I asked Him to help me grasp what it means to LEAN on HIM for help.. To rest in Him. To remain IN HIM and to be consistent in that.
And then I started to read 2 Corinthians chapter 12.
In it Paul is talking to the people of Corinth and he is speaking of the thorn in his flesh.
What was Paul's thorn in his flesh?
The bible does not say and all we know for sure is that it was some bodily trial which God allowed to come into his life. I love that the bible is not specific about what his thorn was. It could have been that Paul suffered with migraines. It could have been an eye disease or maybe Paul suffered with the thorns that I suffer with which are insecurity and emotional eating. No matter what it was, this passage gives me comfort knowing that Paul suffered with something and its not like I LOVE that Paul suffered. It is the fact that while he suffered he still preached the gospel with passion and zeal. While he suffered he still accomplished what he accomplished in his life. He never gave up. He never lost faith in God. He never grew bitter and quit. AND even more than than that what I love the VERY MOST is that Paul asked for his thorn to be removed three times! I can relate to that. I have wanted my food struggles to go away. I have fantasized about a life where I was always confident and never struggles with emotional eating. Oh what could I accomplish then?!
Hmmmmm. I think that's that point and why I have a thorn in my flesh. Because it is not ME accomplishing the things I am accomplishing. It is Christ within me. SO I CANNOT BOAST!
If you are not familiar with this bible passage, what it talks about next is that Pauls' request to have his thorn removed was to no avail and after realizing that God was not going to be taking away his affliction, Paul then goes on to explain that instead of removing it God basically says this to him:
"I will not remove the thorn, but I will do something better. I will give you grace to bear it and just remember Paul, that although I have not given you what you have asked for, I am giving you what you need most deeply. You want my power and strength to accompany your preaching right? Well, the best way to have that happen is for you to be kept in a place of weakness."
Now I don't know about you but I don't want to struggle with any weakness. Because, for me, I not only realize I have the weakness but then I feel awful and shame about having the weakness. And even though I have wished that my weaknesses would go away I see from this passage that God is saying that he is not taking them away because he is actually grainting me something better than the removal of my weaknesses. What is it that he gives me?
He gives me the companionship of the Son of God and the assurance of His strength and enabling grace in my life.
God says that His grace is sufficient for me. I don't have to ask him to make his grace sufficient. It already is.
Now I don't know about you but I am asking God to help me to REALLY grasp what is being said here.
So I kept reading in the bible. What was Paul's response to this? Here's what Paul said:
"Therefore, I most gladly will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upone me."
Wow! OK, so instead of complaining and getting frustrated with the thorn in his flesh and with himself Paul said he would, from now on, boast in his infirmities. He would actually get on his knees and thank the Lord for them.
Um, OK, I don't know about you but this is not my first gut reaction. It is not my first thought to get on my knees and thank God that I have this food issue or that I struggle with insecurity. But what if I started doing that?
"It is when we are conscious of our weakness and nothingness that we most depend on the power of God. And it is when we are thus cast on HIm in complete dependence that His power is manifeted to us and we are TRULY strong." '
So what does this all mean? Well it means everything.
Especially for a perfectionist like me.
God’s favor was all Paul needed to successfully fulfill his life’s calling. Or I could put it another way. God's favor, his grace, is all Mandy needs to successfully fulfill her life calling.
In other words, Mandy does not need to work so hard. To beat herself up when she comes face to face with her weaknesses. NO, she can actually REJOICE in them.
What a radical response!
(I got this next part from a blogger named Kelly Levantino, Find her blog whole blog here.)
God’s grace is sufficient for the following...
1) To survive pain. God’s blessing is enough for us to make it through any kind of physical, spiritual, or emotional pain, no matter how long that pain exists. God’s grace – His favor – is enough, all by itself, to sustain us until He determines that pain should end.
2) To empower us for ministry. God’s Kingdom purposes are accomplished by His endorsement alone, not human approval, ability, or ambition. We all have a ministry, and His grace – His blessing and approval – is enough, all by itself, to make our ministries flourish.
3) To establish our security. We all wonder, to varying degrees, if we are loved, valued, appreciated, accepted, approved of, desired, etc. Too often we look to others to affirm our worth. God’s grace – His approval – is enough, all by itself, to solidify our true worth.
4) To fulfill our life callings. We are all here for two reasons: to know God and to make Him known (Exodus 9:15-16). How we make Him known, and to whom, may vary, but, ultimately, we’re all called to the same thing. And the calling is not for the feint of heart. But, God’s grace – His favor and blessing and approval – is enough, all by itself, to empower us to do what we’re supposed to be doing.
So I guess to put it succinctly God’s grace is sufficient for everything.
(Artwork credit: I got it from Google images. Kingdom Culture.)
Motivated by the radical love of Jesus, I create beautiful works of art and passionately share my testimony to free people all across the earth to also fully and completely live the life they were uniquely created for.
I blog about things that I experiene and hope will motivate, guide and inspire you toward greater creativity, fulfillment, peace, and joy in your everyday life.