Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Thorns

on March 14, 2014

If I was being totally transparent with you right this minute, I would tell you that last night, I wanted to walk away from this entire Faith journey.  I was done. Exasperated is a good word for how I felt.  I told God I was done, and I was no longer interested in continuing this walk.  I felt an overwhelming sense of defeat last night, a suffocating of the very breath within me.  I felt as though someone had taken a fire blanket to the fire in my soul – and it was no more.  It was a dark moment.

If I was being totally transparent with you right this minute, I would tell you that last night, that ugliness was a result of my own sin.  My own choice to walk separate from God in a certain area of my life.  Yet, I must be honest with you in saying that it doesn’t feel like choice to me when I am in it.  No, it feels like a vacuum, sucking the life out of me.  It feels like a slide.  I make progress in this area of my life, just enough progress where I finally think I am going to be standing at the top, victoriously looking back on the journey…just far enough where I can see it, smell it, TASTE IT!  Then, WHAM!!  Out of nowhere it seems, I begin to slide.  It’s like the mountain turns to solid ice, and no matter what I do, my feet slip and I fall.

Last night, I fell AGAIN.  And, you know what?  I got angry.  I got angry at God.  I got angry because I have handed this struggle up to Him time and time again.  I’ve surrendered it to Him.  I’ve asked Him to take it away, I’ve admitted my powerlessness over it – I’ve fully acknowledged that ALONE, there is nothing I can do to stop the cycle from happening once the emotional boundary line has been crossed.  I have fully handed this sin to God, from the depths of my soul I have cried out to Him in this specific area.

He has redeemed me from so much!  My past was laden with sin upon sin.  He has completely freed me from the chains that used to bind me to the vast darkness that was once characterized as my life.  He reached down and pulled me from the deep waters and placed me on dry land.  A spacious place (Psalm 18).  He called, I answered.  I surrendered and He redeemed me.  I repented, He forgave!  So, why do I continue to struggle with this same sin over and over again without reprieve?  Why do I continue to find myself in the same defeating cycle I have been so many times before, and feel like I canNOT escape until it has come full tilt?  It is beyond frustrating.  It is beyond humiliating.  It is beyond my capacity to understand.

The anger inside my heart last night was deafening.  I could hear nothing else but the roaring of my spirit.  I wanted to run, I wanted to leave this life of right living and hide back in the shadows of my past.  I wanted out.  Sincerely, I did.  The words “I’m done God” actually left my mouth.

I don’t know much, but I do know a few things. I know that God is a BIG God.  He is big enough to handle my little temper tantrum last night.  I can just picture Him sitting there patiently awaiting me to come to my senses and stop kicking and screaming like a 2-year old.

I also know that God is 100% Faithful.  He is faithful even when I am  not.  Last night, I was acting in total defiance.  I wanted out of my relationship with God because I didn’t like the way I felt.  It was childish and immature, and it was a faithless act of self-indulgent pouting and whining.  And what did He do?  He loved me right through it. Relationship with my Creator is nothing like my human relationships. When I act out in such an ugly way – the human side of anyone retaliates.  I know this because I’ve been there many times.  But there was no retaliation from God.  There was no “Fine, then I’m through with you too!”  or an angry response of  “If you want out, then leave!”  There was no silent treatment, no storming away from me, no ultimatum.  Just love.  Pure, complete, absolute, LOVE.  It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with HIM.

When I feel worthless, He sees me as worthwhile.

When I feel useless, He sees me as useful.

When I feel defeated, He sees me as victorious.

When I feel ugly, He sees me as beautiful.

I could go on and on, but the point is, the way I feel has nothing to do with how God sees me.  The way I act has nothing to do with how God treats me.  So, basically – what I am understanding is this:  My feelings about me have nothing to do with God’s feelings about me.

So, this morning, upon waking, I was prompted to read about the “thorn in Paul’s side”.  The concept every rose has its thorn entered into my heart.   Every rose. What does a rose represent?  To me, the beautiful life I lead today is like an ever blooming rose.  What does a thorn represent?  To me, it represents the pain and the ugliness of this sin that just won’t seem to go away. I cannot say that I have any answers.  What I can say is, even the great Apostle Paul had a thorn.  A thorn that he begged God to remove.  A thorn that God told him would not be removed.  Why? So that he didn’t become too confident in his own strength. When Paul asked for God to remove his thorn, this was God’s reply:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

His grace is sufficient for me.  I do NOT find this coincidental that all of this is happening on the tail end of a weekend retreat where we dug our heels in to the most amazing, powerful, wonderful, almighty GRACE of our Father in heaven!

Yes, every rose  has its thorn.  Every beautiful has its ugly.  Every up has its down.  Every right has its wrong.

The only perfect is GOD Himself.

So, here I sit on the other side of another fall, still not sure when the next one is coming – but fully aware that it will.  In case you are wondering – I’m not walking away from my Faith journey.  I’m not giving up.  I’m a little more humbled than I was yesterday, I’m a little more aware than I was yesterday, and I’m a little more ready to move another step forward.  This life is a journey.  And we are always being prepared.  For what?  For better things to come.  If a persistent thorn in my side is what it is going to take to keep me leaning into God’s strength instead of my own…if a thorn is what I need so that I don’t get too confident in my own abilities…..if a thorn is what I need to stay “right sized” and God focused….then I fully accept the pain.  And next time, when I am throwing a temper tantrum…perhaps God will lead me back to this blog entry.  Maybe He will remind me, that yes – indeed – I have committed it ALL to Him.

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.     2Corinthians 12: 7b-10

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