Tonight, we had the privilege to go watch a girl get baptized who was in my small group as a freshman in high school. This girl is now 24 years old. One thing about student ministry is that a lot of times you don't get to witness the fruits of your labor--the hours spent hanging out, counseling, driving from events, prayer and hope. That's why it is such a privilege to get to witness this event all these years later--to see how God has worked in her life over the last decade. She got baptized at our old church and I seriously love listening to the pastor, Andy Stanley, teach. He has a way about him. He can communicate something so articulately. They are in the middle of a series called "In The Meantime." The idea is: what can you do when there is nothing you can do? What do you do when you seem to have a problem with no solution? You feel stuck in your job or marriage or situation. What do you do when you are miles away from an ideal with no good options? What do you do in the meantime?
So since North Point isn't our home church now, we missed the first week in the series which you can listen to here. SPOILER ALERT! I am going to talk about what was said tonight in week 2 of the series. The message came from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul talks about how God gave him an affliction, a thorn in his flesh. The greek word for "given" is positive. It isn't a negative connotation which we would most likely view because if we were afflicted in anyway it would be negative yet Paul uses a positive verb. It was given as it might be a birthday or christmas present--given with love and with intention. And Paul says that it was given so that he could experience God's power which is perfected in weakness. That God's grace is sufficient for me. God's power reaches its full measure in your weakness.
"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Andy's take home is this: "In order to... I was given a thorn... a gift with a purpose & a promise. Embracing your inability is a prerequisite to experiencing Christ's ability."
So we can choose to see this thorn as a gift given from a loving father that comes with a purpose (that you may not yet know) and a promise--that His grace will be your strength.
What area do you struggle with the most right now? I have been able to answer that question easily over the course of my life, and today is no different. Can I just be honest with you? I'm going to believe that this little haven of mine is safe. I value authenticity. As a communicator, I'm not me if I don't speak honestly about myself--the good, bad and ugly. Honestly, what is my struggle right now? My kids. Y'all, this parenting thing ain't no joke. I was seriously underprepared for this job. My big child is in a season where we struggle. In fact, that season began at birth but for whatever reason, it is elevated in the current state. Everything is a battle of wills. The irony is that she doesn't battle with ANY. OTHER. ADULT. Pure perfection at school yet at home, with us, all of it is a battle. And if I were being gut-level honest, I have never really viewed having kids as a gift. Now, I ask that you cut me some grace before you completely hang me up to dry. (I am definitely an imperfect person writing this blog.) It's hard to view things that are difficult as gifts. It's hard to view a job loss or unlovable spouse or illness as a gift. It is hard to view a child who fights your every breath as a gift. That doesn't mean I don't love her. I love her and would give my life up for her but parenting her hasn't felt like a christmas gift. Tonight's take away was for me. God gave me this strong, determined girl on purpose with a promise. I don't know why God chose me to parent her but I can believe that His grace will be my strength. It is something that causes me to rely on His ability in my inability.
So I'm gonna own it. I'm gonna boast in my weakness. I am not strong in parenting. I would have completely failed that course if given. I'm gonna embrace it so that in my weakness glory bounces back to God. here is week 2 if you want to watch online.