Does God need anything?

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Yes, He does. He needs our weakness!

Checkbook of Grace

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me2 Cor 12:9

What an amazing and imbalanced swap!  We give God our weaknesses and in exchange, He provides His unlimited power and strength.

In Paul’s case, God did not remove the illness or disease (that ambiguous thorn in his side), but gave Paul endurance not only to bear it but to rejoice in it.

I’ve been thinking about 3 things – ‘boasting in weakness’ as Paul puts it, God’s provisions and my needs.  John Piper writes in his book Faith in Future Grace that most of God’s word to us is in the form of promises.  It’s like God hands his redeemed kids an unlimited checkbook called Grace.   If grace is the set of all of God’s gifts to us, then within that purse or checking account or cupboard (whatever metaphor you prefer) are coins/checks/containers of different resources.

God's Grace Venn Diagram  You probably can’t read the small titles, but I think you’ll get the idea.  The big circle is all the grace available to us; the points are names of the forms of provision like:

  • mercy
  • strength
  • forgiveness
  • peace
  • financial resources
  • time
  • healing
  • patience
  • understanding
  • faith
  • rescue

The promises become precious to you and me only when we are desperate and bank our all on them, moving out of the paralysis of fear into the open space called ‘trusting God to do what He says’.  Hence the checkbook.  Some of us carry a checkbook around in a pocket or purse and when we need something and don’t have the money in hand, we write a check and count on both the merchant accepting it in lieu of cash and our bank honoring it.

It’d be stupid to continue to be needy all the while carrying a valid checkbook!  But that is how we act with God’s word.

Okay – so here is where this gets real for me.  What is my # 1 weakness?  It’s the continual fear that I won’t have ENOUGH TIME to do what I need to do for school and home AND……have some time left over for me to do what Maria wants.  Daily and hourly I face and fight that fear.  So God, in His kind design to wean me off my fear and grow my default mechanism to trust Him continually, SEEMS to give me more stuff to do than I can SEE time available to me.

I’m a slow learner.  But I’m getting better.  My thoughts are lining up more times than not (80%) with God’s word. My heart, however, still drags its feet.

To help both you and me, here are some encouraging words.  Take them as reasons to believe that these promises ARE indeed meant to be used.  The first one states the fact that we actually POSSESS these promises if we are indeed Children of God:

  • (Paul lists several promises and ends a chapter quoting a promise from the Old Testament in 2 Sam 7:14 ) “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (Paul then reasons…) Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends…... 2 Cor 6:18 – 7:1a   

  • But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus – Phil 4:19
  • For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength – Phil 4:13
  • I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it – Psalm 81:1

There are hundreds and hundreds of promises that will stun you if you will accept them as truthful words from a reliable source.

But how can we really know that God will come through and the check not bounce? I’ll leave you with two realities that reassure me:

  1. All I have to do is look back over my past (recent and long ago) and see the many ways He has come through when I both relied on Him and doubted Him. (call that “mercy and kindness added to provision”).
  2. The definition of God is composed of His attributes.  So when you consider just ONE characteristic –  ‘faithfulness to His word’, if anyone could top God then that person would be God.  The very definition of ‘God’ means that no thing or no one tops Him in  ANY and ALL of these qualities.  So we can reason and relax that when it comes to doing what He pronounces He will do, then He WILL do it!

So tell me, which promise of God is most precious to you?  What is your # 1 ‘go-to’ pronouncement of provision in this season of your life?  I’m composing my own ABC list of promises that I can have at my disposal and I’d love to be reminded of other treasures in the Bible.

A reason NOT to envy anyone

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Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”  2 Cor 12:9

I didn’t sleep much last night, thanks to leg and foot cramps that kept me trying to work out the pain.  In God’s providence, however, I had time to think about what I read right before bed.  In her book (see link below) Melissa Kruger examines how we envy different aspects of others’ lives.

Link to book here – Envy of Eve

We say things like: I wish I had Susie’s house and Jane’s well-mannered boys and Becky’s body and a supervisor as understanding as Ellen.   And Pat’s church seems vibrant and Joan’s husband always helps out with housecleaning!

But what we DON’T realize when we fantasize about creating for ourselves a ‘greener lawn’ from the composite parts of our friends’ lives is this:

Each of those ‘better’ life circumstances is likely to be the compensatory grace God has given someone to enable them to endure a thorn in the side.  Yes, we might look wistfully at Susie’s well decorated home, but would we welcome her rocky marriage?  Maybe the beauty of her home provides the reminder she needs, in these trying days, of God’s love for her.

I often ponder Joni Eareckson Tada’s living as a quadriplegic these past 40+ years.  God has not answered prayers for physical healing.  But He has provided strength to endure via the satisfaction of an international disabilities ministry that has changed the lives of thousands.

So last night God DID give me endurance and a good attitude by the Spirit’s calling to mind the His many other tailor-made-to-me blessings!  Just this NEW consideration alone lifts me up – definitely worth one sleepless night!

 

It’s good to be weak

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Like Paul, I have prayed that God would remove certain difficulties.

This week, I took a baby step in imitating Paul when he confessed:

I will say this: because these experiences I had were so tremendous, God was afraid I might be puffed up by them; so I was given a physical condition which has been a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to hurt and bother me and prick my pride. Three different times I begged God to make me well again.

Each time he said, No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about “the thorn,” and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him.  (2 Cor 12: 7 to 10)

  • As Leia, our 17 1/2 year old cat was declining, I begged God just to take her life during the night – easily and quietly
  • 2 different times in the first 7 weeks of this school year my new principal has come into my classroom and shut the door.  With good intentions, she has reported some negative feedback received from certain parents about this or that related to my teaching (new school, new kids, new expectations)

A week ago I finally acknowledge that I felt depressed. Cornered.  Meditatively and prayerfully writing last week’s blog post, finding scriptures to cling to was life and light giving.

This week, I chewed on Paul’s words.  I nourished and encouraged myself with the following thought:

  • “His grace is sufficient to make me content that I am weak.  As I lean on Him and trust Him to guide me this class period, as I wait on Him for wisdom about our cat, I know that on the other side of each hour, I will be glad that my acknowledged weakness and dependency created the VOID necessary for Holy-Spirit-Power to rush in.  No space……. no divine help.  Lord, keep me dependent on You!”

So now it’s Sunday, a week later.

Leia close up on 7 Oct 2013

Leia is buried beneath our balcony overlooking the gorgeous hills of Western North Carolina.

I taught kids more French, trusting Him to help me to adjust to their needs and the expectations of my boss.

Do I still wish for a life without suffering?  YES!!!  I’m human, i.e. sinful and weak-willed.

But I will trust Him that His way is best for me.  After all, God alone is the happy Holy Father who has already proven that He loves me.  What more could He do than He has already done by adopting me into His Forever Family?

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