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Boasting In My Weaknesses

Lately I have been pondering some of my own weaknesses, and how God has slowly but surely been bringing healing in these areas. (If you haven't read the Little by Little meditation, reading it might bring you "up to speed").

I have watched as He is gradually bringing "victory" in areas in which I have struggled for years. The progress has been slow and steady, and may not always be outwardly apparent to others... Yet I can tell in my heart, and I can see the tangible changes and results.

Over the past couple of days, as I have delighted in Jesus' presence, contemplating these changes as well as the struggles, two thoughts have risen to the surface.

First, if I didn't fail so often, I wouldn't know or realize as much of His kindness, forgiveness, patience and "grace". After all, if anyone has a right NOT to put up with me and my weakness, it is He, right? He lived it out perfectly Himself... Why are these "little" things so hard for me? Why don't I just "straighten up and fly right"?

Well, because I can't, that's why. I am weak. But I rejoice because He is strong ... and He lives in me.... And it is through His strength that change is coming about in my life, moment by moment, day by day. Sometimes more noticeably, sometimes beneath the surface... but always there, always progressing, always moving forward toward Him, by His grace.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12

It's almost as though God has deliberately allowed these flaws in my character to make all the more apparent the wonder of His character ... His amazing patience and forbearance. As Paul says in Romans 11:32
"For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

That seems very mysterious and strange to our human minds, but it is somehow wrapped up in the wonder of Who He is.

Here is the second thing that has struck me recently: it is because of those same stubborn weaknesses, and how I know that they are deeply ingrained in me ... that when I see them changing, I know that it is from Him! I become increasingly aware, assured and convinced of His presence, because these tangible changes bear the marks of His handiwork.

Funny, as I write this, I am reminded that lately I have been praying for Him to make His presence ever clearer to me, since this life is often hard, lonely and filled with so many "things to do"... It is frequently difficult for me to know if I am hearing His voice clearly and following where He would have me go....

Perhaps this is an answer to that prayer for me. Maybe I can't see a physical vision of Him, or audibly hear His voice, or tangibly feel His hand upon my shoulder.... But I can visually see the changes that are occurring around me as He changes me. And it is a huge comfort and reassurance to my soul ... that He is with me, He does love me, and He will bring about the "best" in my life.

How about you? Are there things about yourself that you just wish you could change? Are you overly aware of weaknesses within you that cause self-hatred or dismay? Is it possible that "just maybe" He has lovingly placed those very "flaws" within you in order to draw you to Himself? As you cry out to Him for help, and He so willingly and readily comes to your aide ... might it not be time for you to lift up your eyes, see how He is healing and changing you, and rejoice in the wonder of His presence within you? In Jesus' presence there is strength, peace, love, hope and joy. Perhaps that is why Paul said:

"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. 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

January 21, 2004

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