There is so much on my mind right now as I sit in my office getting ready for our Sunday services. First, I’m tired. I don’t know why, but I just feel worn out this morning. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t make any coffee today. Do I have everything ready that is under my control? Did I put enough prayer, thought, and time into my sermon this week? How many people will be here this morning? Will that semi truck that keeps parking in our lot without permission be back next week (fortunately he pulled out of the parking lot about a half hour ago)? Is this new series that we’re starting today, and leading all the way up to Easter, connect with our people? Are all the families that I know of that are hurting in one way or another finding comfort in the arms of Jesus, or are they trying to do it on their own? Have I done enough or could I be doing more? Am I enough?
Am I enough?
That’s a lot to have floating around in your brain, especially just an hour or so before you are going to preach. With that much on my mind, it’s hard to be clear headed and focused on faithfully preaching the Word. This doesn’t happen every Sunday, but it happens more often than I would like to admit. It would be nice if I could come into my preaching duties completely clear-headed, focusing on God and God alone as I preach His word. That’s the goal. That’s the way it should be. But in my brokenness as a flawed human being, I let those worries above creep into my mind. And realizing that, it puts even more worry on my mind because I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power.
I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power.
I’ve mentioned on here before how much I listen to music when I am in the office. This morning is just like the rest. My Pandora station is playing, and there has been a great mix of worship music pumping through my speakers. Most of the time, music goes to the back of my mind, meaning I don’t always focus on what is actually playing. That was the case for most of the morning as all the questions and worries above were just rolling around almost uncontrollably. That is until songs like “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship, “My Victory (Feat. Crowder)” by Passion, “Your Grace is Enough” by Matt Maher, an “How He Loves” by the David Crowder Band came on.
These songs helped me focus in like normal, but I was paying attention to the lyrics as well. I know all these songs by heart, and found myself singing along. And something clicked. I remembered that in Jesus, I am enough. I can rely on Him and His grace. Through the relationship I have with Jesus and my belief in Him as my Savior, I am free. All those questions and concerns listed above may or may not go the way that I want them, but God is the One that is in control. It’s not up to me anyway.
It’s not up to me anyway.
We don’t know what Paul’s so-called “Thorn in the Flesh” was, but it could be that it was something like the concerns and worries that I listed above. Maybe not, but I think the response that Paul received when he pleaded to have the thorn removed can be applied to us today. II Corinthians 12:1-10 is where Paul records this event in his life. Here’s what he wrote to the church in Corinth;
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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.
I don’t have all the answers to my questions above. And I may never see the answers to all the questions above. But I realize that it’s not all up to me anyway. I feel inadequate as a minister on many occasions because I always feel like I could do more or do better. Or I could find a way to bring more people to the church. This morning, I was reminded, however, that I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life. So, let me echo the words of Paul. First, the response he received is a great comfort to me. “My grace is sufficient to you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life.
That has always been my prayer. To glorify God. His grace is sufficient because His power is shown through my weakness, meaning that anything I accomplish in ministry is through His power anyway. Paul goes on writing about boasting in his weakness because Christ’s power rests on him in those times. In his weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, he can delight. That is the opposite of human nature, but then again, so is just about everything in trying to follow Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. That doesn’t make sense to most of us. But we have to remember that we live on God’s power and grace, not our own.