An excerpt from an upcoming new book "Garbage to Treasure through Grace."
St. Paul is conflicted. He is not a happy camper. He has been chosen by The Lord for a great mission. Looking inside he sees something he is not happy with. He does not want it to be in his life. He wants it removed. That was his plan. The Lord had other plans, and God was not very shy about letting Paul know. WE do not know what habit of sin, what thorn in the flesh, Paul had to deal with, all we know is he wanted it gone. Fat chance says the Lord. I got other plans for "this thorn." Plans Paul is not going to like, and will upset his ego. Even though he asks three times to have this thorn removed. The Lord is not moved. He says to Paul, "Get over yourself. All this is not about you, and your weakness, it is all about My mercy-full, transforming, compassionate love that is being channeled into you through, this weakness, you resent." Paul got an introduction into what the spirituality of imperfection is all about. Paul got the message but remember not right away. Consoling is it not!!! Now it gets better. It slowly dawns on him, all this is not about him. It is all about the workings of mysterious grace. Mysterious action of grace, which transforms weakness into strength. Not our strength, but the strengthening love of The Lord God, that is revealed to us through our individual "thorn." We all have one. To resent it is to drive us away from the inner journey. We as regular human beings are not well equipped to deal with the shadow, the unacceptable, the inferior, the part of us that has not yet been transformed. Paul uses the word "flesh" for that. It is translated "sarx," a challenging reality we not only have to embrace but actually love. Paul by his acceptance of the thorn gives us these encouraging words, "It is ONLY when I am weak, it is then that I am strong." As it was for Paul, so it is for us. Read and reflect on Romans chapter 7. While you are at it, go to Corinthians chapter two, and read more about St. Paul's struggle with the humanity he is immersed in.
Like all of us he has to deal with this reality. He is doing the things he does not want to do, and not doing the things he is supposed to do. Sounds familiar??? You bet it does. It is our moment to moment struggle ,that morphs into hours, days, years, and even for some, decades. We are so very slowly immersed into the mercy-full, transforming, passionate love of our Prodigal God. A God we will never understand, or comprehend, but gradually grow in acceptance of. This mystery, like all mysteries is slowly revealed to us through our weaknesses, and brokenness. Carl Stuhmiller writes, "It is ONLY (mine) through our weaknesses, and our brokenness can we have an audience with a God of faithfulness and compassion." The Prodigal loving God Jesus The Christ Came to reveal. So then resentment is toxic to our spiritual wholeness.
The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, so, the Scriptures tell us.
Part 2 tomorrow...