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The words have been harder to find these days.

It has been difficult to see the grace through the thorns that invade my vision.  Even though I can't see the grace, I have faith that it is there.  The exuberance of God's grace covers me like a warm blanket on this so very cold February day.  I know God hears me, I know that God loves me, and I know that God exists.  But, the words...the words of thankfulness, appreciation, and humility - these words have been harder to say out loud.

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I know God knows me.  He has searched me and knows my thoughts from afar.  God knows that I love him and wish to serve him, but he also sees the other side of me: the sinful, selfish side.  He knows the thorns of my flesh, he knows my weakness.  He knows my frustrations, my wondering thoughts, and my anxieties.  He knows my limitations, my handicaps, my skills.  He knows me better than I know myself.

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Last Wednesday, as I sat in a pew waiting for the ashes to mark me as a believer, I listened to my preacher say, "Many of you give up things for Lent. I'm asking you to take on something as well."  I couldn't help but think, "I can't take on anything else."

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Do you ever feel like if you take on one more thing you are going to crumble and break?  That if you say yes to one more question, you might regret it terribly later?  You are not alone, truth-seeker.  You are not alone.

The season of Lent is a beautiful showing of God's grace and mercy.  It is a time to be forgiven and made new.  Lent is about letting go of some things and holding on to other things. When I get to my breaking point - my limit - I have to embrace the Lenton challenge of letting go and holding on.

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One day out of the week during Lent, I'm fasting for a thorn to leave me.  Better yet, I'm fasting to see God's will for this thorn instead of my own.  While fasting (letting go), I pray (holding on) for strength, guidance, humility, and thankfulness. Kneeling before the Lord, I give him everything: my trust, my pride, my self-centeredness and I ask him to take it on for me.

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I've questioned why this thorn hasn't left me for almost a year.  Summer, fall, and winter I've pleaded for it to be gone.

But, this thorn has stayed.

Being angry about this predicament does me no good.  While fasting and praying, God has shown me that it is through this weakness that he is being made stronger.

Three times I pleaded to the Lord to take it away from me.  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.  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.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Matthew Henry Commentary says, "Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer."

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Kneeling in prayer, the words slowly tumble out.  I don't resist him, I let him have it all.  For he grows stronger the more I give him my weaknesses.  And somehow, through the thorn that still cuts deep and the meals that have not been eaten, I get stronger too.  I don't feel like I'm about to break, I feel whole and secure.  For Christ's sake, I'm choosing to delight even though he's told me no three times already.  Because, I know that Christ has risen and he is full of grace and mercy...even to a girl who doesn't always appreciate it.

What about you, friend?  Do you have any thorns that have yet to leave you?  Can you share how you overcome the thorn and rest in Christ's power?

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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