Thursday, April 5, 2012

Broken Vessel

         Yesterday morning I woke to a scripture verse, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) I hadn’t felt good when I had gone to bed, and woke up feeling even worse. I cried out to the Lord that I have so much to do this week to get prepared for the many celebrations we are going to have for Easter. Getting a cold is the last thing I needed. Yesterday, I asked for much prayer and started to feel a little better, but still, the cold and icky feeling was there, lingering throughout the day. I rested when I could, and took some medicine before I went to bed last night. 
        I woke this morning to feeling worse- my cold has now gone into my chest, and to my stuffy nose somehow was added coughing. Oh Lord, I cried, please heal me from this sickness. I am weak and I need Your healing touch. Once again, He answered with, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Believe me when I tell you that was not the answer I wanted to hear this morning, but it was exactly what my heart needed. Knowing that the answer I was going to get if I cried out for healing again was going to be the same, I decided to seek out the scripture passage the Lord laid upon my heart. I found myself energized by the words He spoke to me today.
       Paul wrote about an infirmity that he had and that he had asked the Lord to take from him in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. The Lord did not heal Paul of this infirmity, and scripture does not tell us exactly what that infirmity was. But what Paul does teach us is a simple truth that we as believers can apply to our everyday lives. Paul says that because of the many revelations and great work that he was doing he was given a thorn in the flesh, one to keep him humble and dependent upon God alone. It is very easy to get into a place of exaltation when one is doing work and ministry for the Lord. It is easy to find yourself “lifted up” on your own works and not on the work of Christ through you. (I know from experience).
       Just like Paul, I have been given a weakness, an infirmity for a purpose. I don’t usually get sick, and when I do it is because I either am doing too much and running myself ragged, or the Lord God desires to do a work in me and needs to take me out of the way. The latter of these two scenarios is where I find myself this week. Paul tells us that he pleaded with the Lord, just as I have, and the Lord Jesus replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Sound familiar- yeah, I thought so too! But as I took time to seek out what the Lord was telling me through His word, I found that I was rejuvenated and refreshed, a desire and passion was born in me this morning.
       His grace is sufficient for us. Sufficient means to be able to bear the evil manfully, to be able to bear with the malady that has befallen us and to still be able to stand, even when we feel we are too weak to continue. We have been taught that Grace means God’s Riches At Christ Expense. But in this context, it actually means the power and equipment for ministry. Just like Paul, I find myself called to carry out a purpose and a mission, however, I cannot find the strength within myself it fulfill it. The Lord God calls out to us today that His Grace, His power and His equipping is enough for us. We have no need to draw upon anything within ourselves, because the power and the equipping does not come from us, it comes from Him.
       After I read this, I was given a visual of a pitcher of tea. It was full to the brim with fresh made sweet tea. God was trying to pour His grace and His power into the tea, but the pitcher was full. There was no room for what He wanted to add, there was only room for what I had put into the pitcher itself. We are vessels created by God, for God and to God. But if we fill our vessel up with our own agendas, desires, wants and ministries, then there is no longer any room for the Grace of God and the equipping He desires to give us. We have to empty ourselves of ourselves and allow Him to fill us up with His grace- which is sufficient for us.
His power and His work cannot be made perfect or complete within us until we let go of all that we know and think. The more “I” try to be, the less of Him I shall become. If we are full of ourselves we cannot be full of the grace of God. Pastor Chuck Smith writes, “Sometimes we find that we will never truly experience the strength of God until we first experience our own weakness in some glaring way.” How true that is for me today!
       My lack of strength allows Him to do what He desires, not what I think He desires. It’s not about me and my abilities, it’s about the fullness of God filling me and flowing out of me to all and everyone He desires to touch. Being a broken vessel is the single most beautiful piece of art work in the entire kingdom. We are created for God, by God and to God, let us all be that broken vessel this week and let us all proclaim-
     “Your Strength oh Lord is made perfect in my weakness. Your grace is sufficient for me. Break me, empty me that You may be glorified today and every day.” Amen.
      No matter what ministry you are in, no matter where you are at today, your weakness, your lack of strength is what the Lord desires to work through. We have to empty our pitcher and let Him fill us up to the brim with His power and His desire.
      I pray that you would bow your knees this week, as we prepare for the greatest day of our faith and ask the Lord to reveal your weaknesses and how He desires to use those to His glory. May we all proclaim this day, this week, this Easter, “Here I am Lord, send me! Your grace is sufficient for me.”