Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Somewhere in the Tears...

In his second letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it.

Three times I did that, and then he told me, 'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

For a long time, I thought I knew what my thorn in the flesh was. I was oh-so-sure that it was my weight. God was keeping me fat so that I wouldn't be a harlot. There was grace in my extra poundage and my singleness. Well, that wasn't so. (And not because I'm married now, but rather because I don't believe God shares American values when it comes to beauty, sexuality, and weight.)

In any case, as I juggled my role as Assistant Pastor, planned my wedding, and studied for my ordination exam last week, I realized what my handicap is. It came to me just when I hit the wall and was ready to quit. I was becoming nonchalant about the details of the wedding because it was tiresome to be consumed. "Whatever," I said to my best friend as she asked me about things that she knows I care about. I was ready to throw in the towel on ordination and take up a job selling umbrellas and sand art on a beach in Jamaica (which also meant leaving the job at the church). The tears began to trickle, and then flow. There it was. This was typical behavior for me. I tend to get myself into positions where I have 3-5 BIG things going on at once. I get overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I really get stuck. I feel like everything is out of my control (because it is). I cry. But the tears aren't the end of the story...

This feeling, this paralysis, postures me to the truth that comes from being a child of God and disciple of Christ. Somewhere in the tears I hear God saying, "My grace is sufficient for you." Somewhere in the tears I get to the point where I can whisper, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Somewhere in the tears I recognize the Faithfulness and Omnipotence of my God! And somewhere in the tears I am humbled before God who indeed is the one who leads and guides me through it all. Truth be told, if I thought I achieved my accomplishments on my own, my head would not be able to fit through any standard sized doorway. So I say, "Thanks be to God" for the tears that keep me mindful of my own limitations and God's limitless possibilities.

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