Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"A Place For Sinners, Not a Museum For Good People"

Thorny places
I liked the slogan of the church as soon as I saw it the Sunday service notes.  We settled into worship and it was obvious right away that the worship leader had spent some time with Jesus.  He worshiped too.

When it came time for the message, the pastor shared the exact same verse I had just read that morning.  I thought to myself...wow..that's cool!  Paul's writings have long stirred me ..and still do.  The more I understand the depth of Paul's circumstances in which he did most of his writing, the bigger fan I am of his style.  If anyone needed mercy, Paul did.   

The pastor shared about Paul's weakness with the thorn in his life.  Paul never mentions exactly what it was that caused him pain or irritation.  But in 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 10, Paul shares.....

"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 how did God answer Paul's cries for thorn-removal?  God left it right where it was planted deep in Paul's soul.  God's answer came in the form of mercy...


"My grace is enough; it's all you need. 
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. "

Did you get that?  Please re-read ...

I have a thorn...we all do..

Whatever your "thorn" is right now...your answer is God's grace.  Whatever you feel weak in...God's strength will come in and make it strong.  Struggling with a failed attempt?  God meets that with His strength and grace.  Feeling like you can't go on another day?  God won't leave you lacking when you ask Him for His grace.  Grace is complete and fills in all the cracks.

Wait...you say you have something that is impossible to get past?  
Your circumstances are ruined for all of time?  
You have crossed the line this time and there is no going back?
  
You have a fear the size of a  professional football field lodged in your throat and you can't see God's work for the giant crocodile tears that are constantly in your eyes and heart?

Yeah...I know...me too.

When I heard God's answer to my weakness, how it was simple and enough, I was a bawling mess of flesh in the pew on that Sunday.  

Really God...how could it be that simple?  How?

"My grace is enough; it's all you need. 
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 
I am your portion and in YOUR weakness, I will use YOU..."

Talk about a waterfall of grace...gushing into my heart.  Wow..

The pastor's message was God's cheerleader encouragement that I needed to kick my football field sized fear-filled dream to the goalpost and say "touchdown".  Well...honestly...I have a hard head so..it will take a couple more reviews of the playbook to fully sink in.

But it was definitely a direct word from my God who knows my fear and has teamed it up with His grace and strength.  I know that he wrote the playbook, so there is no contest to consider.  He has all I need to make what He has asked me to do complete and enough.  


When I am faint from practice, I will be met with enough promised grace.  
When I am frustrated beyond words, His cheers will shout hope to continue.
When I bring my "I-can't-attitude" to the field, He will meet me with A-string of "I-cans!"
When I am faint from not getting it right, He will bring me strength in my weakness.
When I am met with the empty blinking white screen ...He will give me all I need.  

Not just enough, but all that I need.  

God knows my needs better than anyone.  As I swallow hard and move forward I know, even my weakest and most broken places, those are even valuable to God.  It's in those thorny-hard-to-figure-out-the-answer places that he will bring His mercy.  I can trust Him to provide the grace and strength he has promised as He sees fit.  He's not running out of grace-laced-plays yet as I submit to His plan.  Wow....  


So...you want to know the name of the church?  Mercy Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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