First and foremost—I promise you that this not a ploy to trick you into believing that I have it all together at twenty-one, because, not even close. Just ask anyone who has come in contact with me in the last week. They’re all reading this rolling their eyes—we know.
If anything it is the exact opposite and if it is any consolation to you, I’m writing this from my halfway made bed at 12:37 a.m. featuring acne cream, a blue sock, a black sock and minty-fresh retainer.
“I don’t understand, maybe I never will. That’s when You come rushing in.”
This has been the song of my heart for sometime now. A song that I believe, in a moment that I could not even bring myself to words—He spoke for me.
Paul has always been my guy, but even more so recently as I have been painfully reminded of the desperate condition of my heart and all of the disappointment that it carries in tow. So many questions, the loudest being—why? I have seen the winds of sin obliterate any trace of a good thing in its path and yet there is this piece of me that wants so bad to chase it for all I am worth. And I do. I have tasted. I have known the goodness of God and yet, without even batting an eye, I nail him back to the cross with the same hands I worship Him with. Why?
“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
Paul prayed—BEGGED—that the Lord would remove this “thorn” from his flesh. We don’t know what the thorn was and we more than likely never will this side of Heaven, but whatever it was—we can know this—the Lord’s response to Paul is still as true today for me and you as it was all those thousands of years ago:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
The human heart is desperately wicked. Beyond cure. The Bible questions in Jeremiah 17, “who can understand it?” Paul echoes this in Romans 7. “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.”
Paul decides right then and there that instead of spending his life in agony and deep disappointment over a prayer that was not answered the way he wished it to be, that he would cling to this grace, build an altar from his broken places and turn his discouraged heart into Holy ground.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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 12:9-10
The enemy can sense this praise shift in our hearts. He knows how deeply we long to be healed from this thing. And when we, instead of wallowing in our own disappointment, repent and take off our shoes it sends him running scared.
Here is the deal though: our “thorn” cannot be our crutch.
But we were having so much fun, so I decided to have one more drink, or twelve. No big deal.
But he told me how beautiful I am, he would’ve left if I didn’t have sex with him!
But I was home alone and bored, my computer was right there. Who is me watching porn really hurting?
In these moments we have a choice to make. A choice of whether or not we starve our sin and deny our flesh, boasting in and acknowledging the source of our victories or we can lay down and let the enemy have his way with our weaknesses. He is scrambling to cause division and feasts on our failures. Allowing him this access gives birth to a savage cycle of believing the lies of inadequacy and succumbing to a life of being unable to realize our full potential in Christ.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon
So, knowing that we are strong, not despite of but because of our shortcomings we can swim and not sink in deep oceans of grace. The waves will come and they will crash but hallelujah they will push us closer to shores of freedom.
Jesus, we want you!
Photography: Paige Reaux Geter