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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The gift of a handicap



Have you ever heard the saying, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans?"

Well, over a week ago someone said to me, "Send me your newest blog when it's ready."

And I, confident in my ability to foresee the future, replied, "Oh it will be up tomorrow! I'll make sure I send it on to you." Laugh. Laugh.

It is now nine days later. Like the pastor said during his talk on Sunday, "What makes you think you were ever in control?"

And that is really a very good question.

I come from a long line of controlees...people who were wired to "keep it together"...a direct descendent of William Bradford who took the ultimate control and left the Old World across the Pond to establish a colony in the New World....

A Swamp Yankee by heritage...born with a bootstrap in hand and an ingrained sense of how to pull oneself up by said bootstrap on a daily basis.

The thing about bootstraps is that the more you pull on them, the stronger your boot-strap-pulling-muscles grow. It becomes second nature to pull, pull, pull. After awhile, you don't even realize you are pulling anymore.

But eventually you do realize you are tired...very, very tired. And pulling gets more and more difficult. But you can't imagine ever letting go. Pulling is the only life you have ever known...how would life go on without your pulling?

And in that desperate moment God, in His infinite mercy, looks down upon you and plants in you a hunger for rest, which being the good controlee you are, only means you amp up your need to pull harder and make that rest-thing happen by golly!

Rest? Got it! Pull, pull, pull!

So God, in even greater mercy, steps up the trials and tribulations in your life. And you pull harder and harder...and the cycle goes on and on and on...

Until one day you can't pull anymore. And exhausted you let go, not seeing God in the midst of it, just believing that you must have failed. If you had held on just a little longer...pulled a little harder...all these trials and tribulations would not be happening.

Paul has a name for this merciful intervention by God..."The Gift of a Handicap"...


"...I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. 
Satan's angel did his best to get me down: what he in fact did was push me to my knees...At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. 
Three times I did that, and then He told me, 

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once  I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size: abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. 
I just let Christ take over! 
And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."  2 Cor 12:7-10 The Message

The gift of a handicap...from a Heavenly Father who loves us too much to allow us to pull ourselves to death.

A Heavenly Father who says, 

"Are you tired? Worn out? 
Come to Me, get away with Me and you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with Me and work with Me- watch how I do it.  
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

All this from a Heavenly Father who wants us to see life through new eyes...to discover that He is all we need...that we can let go of those bootstraps and in our surrender find all the blessings we thought that only we could bring about...rest, joy, and peace...

And a quality of life that has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him.

Yesterday I had to go in for a retest for something the doctors were concerned about. It was the grand  finale to a year of trials and tribulations...from my husband's collapse in January...to my sickness and all the changes in my life because of it...on to the loss of my mother...and most recently my husband's hip replacement. I just couldn't take One. More. Thing.

My first instinct was to grab those bootstraps and start pulling. 

But instead, as the time drew near for me to leave for my appointment, I walked into my bedroom and grabbing a pen and paper wrote myself a note that I placed on my pillow...

"No matter what happens, God is good and He loves me so much!"

I was tired of allowing circumstances, wrong thinking, the world and Satan tell me who God was. No matter what the results were, this note would be my reminder that I could still rejoice because God is good and He loves me so much!

During this season when we celebrate Emmanuel- "God with Us"- my hope is that each of us will truly know...

That God IS with us...no matter what our circumstances, our minds, or the world or Satan tell us.  

And that God IS good....no matter what our circumstances, our minds, or the world or Satan tell us.

And that God IS madly, passionately in love with you and me...no matter what our circumstances, our minds, or the world or Satan tell us. 

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  

Leaving His heavenly home to come to earth to live and suffer and die so that all who believe in Him can have eternal life...beginning now...and into Heaven, with Him forever...screams of God's goodness and love to you and me!

And so let it be known that as of this moment, I am done with boot-strap pulling. All I got was tired.

Instead, as this difficult year ends and a new one looms on the horizon, my heart's desire is two-fold...

"Not I, but Christ."

and 

"That I may know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His sufferings, and go all the way with Him to death itself. " 
Philippians 3:10

No boot strap pulling required!

Just an endless rest in His power, love and goodness....whatever 2018 brings! 

I wish the same for you, dear one. 

May the peace of the Lord be always with you!





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