Thursday, July 2, 2015


Rembrandt captured in his paintings the sense of burden Paul carried. 

Gift inventories are important. At least it is common practice for churches to encourage their congregants to engage in "gift discernment" so that everyone knows what you bring to the table, how you can contribute to the mission of the church and, honestly, how you might support it financially. And as far as that goes, that is all well and good. But I believe it doesn't go far enough.

I think we miss out on the fullness of God's vision of faithfulness when we think that the focus should be on gifts. What I mean here by gifts are the strengths, talents, and abilities that we identify in ourselves and one another. In an ever-so-familiar churchy kind of way we emphasize "gifts" to the near exclusion of all else.

What about different abilities?  What about dis-abilities?  What about our weaknesses and what Paul would call the thorns in our flesh? What good are they? Might God have a vision that includes them as well?

Here is how Paul speaks of it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
. . .  [A] thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Take a few moments in the days ahead to consider what your thorns might be. How can they be viewed as a blessing?  Are they a reason for strength? How might God use you in all your authentic, complete self (thorns and all!) to be a willing habitation of the power of the Holy Spirit?

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