Called Aside Take Three
This is my second attempt at writing this post. What is it about the theme for this month that rings so true and is so hard to write about? I guess it could be the fact that my spirit is really wrestling with this concept. I mean wrestling – as in someone is getting hurt, and that someone is me. I must not be getting the point. Or maybe I’m stubborn, or I have a lot more to learn than I thought. This past month has been one of one medical issue after another. I used to go years without seeing a doctor. I think I have made up for that in the last 3 weeks. Because of my ER visit in May I needed to follow-up with a cardiologist. I just did and she recommended an echocardiogram plus a heart holter for 30 days. I see an allergist in a couple of days to do an host of allergy testing. I think the problems that landed me in the ER were anaphylaxis in nature. I’ve had three of them. In a one-week span. THEN, on top of this I injured my thumb. Try typing with an ace bandage wrapped around your thumb – it’s challenging. I won’t say it out loud, but I’ll whisper it. “I feel like my body is falling apart.” There. I am done with my griping. I guess I needed to say all that, is because of what I am now going to say.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7
I do know one thing. Jars of clay are very fragile. They are porous and because of that, they break very easily. We were given some very special pottery from our church in Guatemala. It is made from clay and is special to the region where it was made. It did not survive very well the plane trip home over 25 years ago. It is gorgeous, but I only have a few pieces because most of them crumbled. Literally. So, when I think of jars of clay, I have a mental image of this pottery. Then, why am I surprised that THIS jar of clay is fragile? Broken? I guess because it is THIS jar of clay that I am most concerned.
It is me and I don’t want to be here. I had always thought that in order to be of use to the Lord I had to be in great physical shape. I mean – go out into all the world and preach and baptize and disciple. I’ve been on the mission field abroad and locally and I love it. I love sharing the Message of Jesus and I love walking alongside people. I love serving people and helping others. I really do. In the past three-plus years I am learning that I was listening to a lie. God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). How come I am just now figuring this out? I even memorized this verse last year! I did not sink down to my core. I think, though, that it is now. I think of Amy Carmichael who had gone to India and opened a home for children and did a mighty work. And then because of a fall, she was bedridden for the last 25 years of her life. It was during this time that she wrote copious amounts of work and she invested so much of her time in praying for the children, staff and the work that there was an even greater outpouring of God’s Spirit on her.
In the last week or so I started reading an autobiography of Steven Curtis Chapman. His life has had its share of very difficult times and he is very open about his walk through them. It is hard to read about another’s struggles, but also good because it helps us to know that we are not alone. Just before that I read Prisoners of Hope by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer. Wow. Written in 2002, these women endured imprisonment in Afghanistan. And now I am rereading a book by Corrie ten Boom about her father, Casper. The ten Boom family were ordinary people whom God used in a powerful way to save His chosen people during some very dark days. The ten Booms lost 4 people in prison because of their work in the underground in Holland in hiding Jews. What is so incredible is that Corrie’s great-grandfather had started praying 100 years before for the Jews and in 1944 exactly 100 years later the answer to those prayers led to her family’s arrest, imprisonment and death. She writes that this is not how she would have thought the prayers would have been answered, but God used jars of clay to fulfill prayers. That answer brought Him the most glory. Having Amy in bed for 25 years brought Him the most glory. With Dayna and Heather in prison God was glorified more than having them on the streets witnessing. I do not have the answers to the why’s so I have to walk by faith. God will do things so differently than what we think. It is best if we accept it and allow Him free reign. It’s what is known as allowing Him to be Sovereign.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
My daughter said this at her graduation last week. In the midst of this last month we had a glorious celebration here on our farm. We graduated our last homeschooler. Abigail was so beautiful when she said these words to all 85 of us. She is a true testimony to God’s faithfulness in our family. She truly spoke to this heart when she proclaimed her weakness. She said out loud what I have been wrestling with in my spirit. I am weak. I am incapable of ‘doing’ so many things. And it seems to be just getting worse. So. What am I to do? Well, for starters, listen to my daughter proclaim Truth. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Yes, I am weak. Oh so weak. But yet, the Truth is – it is then, and ONLY then that I am strong. But strong in what? If we go back to 2 Corinthians 12:9, we find the answer “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest upon me.” I am strong in the Lord. I am strong in the things that matter the most. It is the kingdom of heaven that matters. It is eternity with Jesus that matters. It is the treasures stored up in heaven. It is living my life here, on earth, with my cross firmly gripped in my hands, that I can boast about my weakness and this broken jar. I can give Him glory by not giving up. I can be steadfast in my devotion to him. He cares not what I do for Him. He cares most what I do in Him. And that ‘in’ is trusting, resting, and following. It’s as simple as that.
Then why is it so hard?
Jesus never said it would be easy. In fact He said it would be hard. But, He told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled. (John 14:1) He told them to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). When I read this, I see two things. I need to grab my heart and push it in the right direction because it is prone to wander. And secondly, there already is victory in the camp. That camp is me and the champion has a Name. It is Jesus. It’s always and forever about Him.
As I have written this out, I feel like I have taken you on a journal entry with me. This is not rehearsed, nor am I copying from something else. This is fresh manna so to speak. God is speaking to me as I write it out. And it is sinking deep. Deep to my spirit. And it is a balm. A sweet balm from the very heart of God. He has not forgotten me. He loves me. He sees the plight of this broken jar. He has me just where He wants me – in complete reliance upon Him. He has washed me afresh and anew with His Word. I am alive in Him. Nothing else matters but His love for me and His amazing power, glory, majesty, strength and honor. He is a good God and what He does is good (Psalm 119:68). Always. YAHWEH thank you for calling me aside to learn from You the power of weakness.