I’m experiencing a holy percolating.
The bubbling began this morning as I met with Jesus for some one-on-one. I took a dive into Philippians 3 and things started stirring. From that moment, I’ve been able to smell the heavenly aroma brewing in my heart. The Father’s cooking up some powerful good stuff.
I’ve been perusing a book entitled Affliction by the late Edith Schaeffer. Although we never shook hands in this life, any gal who has the guts to write a book called Affliction, with no apologies, is a woman I want to get to know some day in the heavenlies. A gem of a lady, without a doubt.
At several points Edith discusses the life of the Apostle Paul. She examines his earthly journey rather closely through the microscope of pain and suffering, searching for treasures gleaned from his sterling example. The insights she shares are truly counter-cultural, even in the Church. As a result, my heart has resonated all week with the concept of the suffering of the righteous. So when I dove into Philippians 3, it was right there waiting to meet me.
Paul has just finished listing his resume, running down the scroll of why he would be qualified to be the Jewish king of the hill. Verse seven brings his point home,
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…”
The Holy Spirit nudged me to make a hard left to II Corinthians 12:9, 10, and the percolating commenced.
“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
At this point, my mind couldn’t help but whirl just a bit. The first place it landed was Nashville, Tennessee, the town that for years has housed all of our earthly goods. The goods we still haven’t reclaimed.
We’ve now been four years without our possessions, all because God said GO and we went. In my simple mind, that equates pretty closely to Paul’s all things from Philippians 3. “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
But Paul’s list of accomplishments had nothing to do with the stuff he owned. I’m sure he left behind him in Jerusalem a fairly posh place when he set out to trek the ancient world. However, the things he laid down, they were his reputation, his standing in the community, his honor among his fellow religious leaders. All this he was willing to count as rubbish. Trash.
I jumped back to II Corinthians 12.
Weakness. I can relate.
But then, the kicker.
“…My POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.”
This is the crux of the matter, the heart of what the Father longs to impart to our spirits. The suffering, the counting-as-loss, the overwhelming weakness, it’s so multi-purposed, multi-faceted, and in a word… glorious. It’s the very genesis of grasping the depth of the power of God at work in us.
Weak, astheneia (Greek): Want of strength, weakness, infirmity of the body; feebleness of health or sickness of soul; to bear trials and troubles.
To be astheneia is to be strong. And this strength is so much more than just the raw emotional energy to crawl through the day.
Power, dunamis (Greek): Inherent power, residing in a thing by virtue of its nature; power for performing miracles; moral power and excellence of soul; power and influence which belong to riches and wealth; power and resources arising from numbers; power resting upon armies or hosts.
This, all this, is perfected in me. His miracles, His sanctification, His excellence, His riches, His influence, His resources, His victorious might. All mine.
“For when I am weak, then He is strong.”
I lean back and try to take it all in. It’s full of weight and glory, a deep, rich brew. It’s going to take some percolating. But now, and hopefully more hereafter, I begin to catch hold of Paul’s heart cry, “Therefore, I will gladly boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Special thanks to Rick Delanty who has granted permission to use his beautiful art in this post.