I was using a saltshaker when I first noticed that the right side of my body was staging a mutiny.
Inexplicably, my hand had forgotten how to move up and down. Other everyday activities became difficult. Brushing my teeth was a challenge. Playing piano was impossible and typing was clumsy. And then there were these weird, involuntary tremors on my right side. What was going on here?
After a batch of expensive tests, the doctors couldn’t — and still don’t — agree. While they are scratching their heads, the elders anointed me and prayed for my healing — twice — and I am trying everything in my power while the problem persists.
Like Paul, I have asked the Lord that this “thorn in my flesh” be taken from me. As He told Paul, He has answered me, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Humph! Hardly the answer I want to hear!
Here is where the rubber meets the road for every leader and me: Who is REALLY in control of my life, ministry, and gifts? And who is in charge of yours?
It is when we are are painfully and continually poked by thorns in the flesh that our determination to be obedient to God’s call is tested and displayed. When we have an uncooperative person on our ministry board tying every meeting into knots; when no one will watch the nursery; when we are criticized for bringing less-than-desirable people into the church; when our budget is stymied by the shortsighted; when we can’t get anything done because we’ve lost control, it is tempting — oh, so tempting! — to yank out the thorn and quit.
But if we are called to a task, we are called to it, regardless of who or what stands in the way — even if it is our own physical limitations.
“My grace is sufficient” — It’s a lovely piece of prose, but it’s meaning is so large that it is a slippery life preserver for the desperate.
However, here’s a handle I’ve found through my own storm:
A can-do attitude is a wonderful thing. But it also masks arrogance, especially when the battle we are fighting is a spiritual one and we are more proficient with our natural talents.
- Spiritual battles require much different weapons, leadership, attitudes, vision, talents, and gifts.
- Spiritual confrontation requires practice but you won’t get it if you are relying on your own natural talent.
When the Lord gives us as leaders a thorn in the flesh, He is reminding us that we are to develop spiritual weaponry skill by knowledge of and connection to Him. He’s made it a little easier for us to do this because we not only won’t rely on our unreliable selves, we no longer can.
In the midst of the hopeless, drowning feeling associated with loss, we have His promise: His grace — or Divine endorsement — will make up for our personal deficits.
And that’s a handle we can all hang on to no matter what our limitations may be.
Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit www.rebekahmontgomery.com. Rebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press.© Rebekah Montgomery 2009.