To get a glimpse of heaven, you usually have to die first
Think of what it takes to be a member of the US military’s elite “Seals, Rangers or Black Ops”. The missions that they have performed for their country over the years are amazing; they inspire our young men to greatness. However, most service men won’t do it because the price they have to pay is too difficult. When we hear of God using Christians to do his work around the globe for his glory, we are inspired as well to be that kind of person. When the Auca Indians killed the five missionaries back in the 50’s there were many people who were inspired to take their places. However, when you think of the actual long term sacrifices that missionaries have to make, it makes most Christians turn back.
Pick up any Christian biography and what makes their testimony special is because God brought them through great trials to show his power and glory through them. People like Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Joni Eareckson Tada, Gracia Burnham, Nick Vujicic, Ann Frank, and Corrie Ten Boone, just to name a few are such encouragements to the body of Christ because of their faith through their great sacrifices. Do we want God to do great things through us? The problem is that few of us are willing for him to take us through his special boot camp training of hardships.
As in today’s passage, I think that everyone would like a glimpse of heaven like Paul had (and you can read of other individual’s trips to, and visions of heaven in books), but the problem is that in these cases, it involves pain and DEATH to get there and often long rehab when you come back. Is that a problem for you?
Paul’s weakness reveals God’s strength
12 Cor 11: 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you God?
I AM the God who made you exactly the way you are with all your gifts, talents AND disabilities and weaknesses for my glory not yours. My special servants have more significant gifting but also must pay a heavier cost so that their faith is proven to be genuine. Disabilities are not necessarily bad and to be gotten rid of, they remind you that it is not by your power, gifting or prestige by which I glorify myself. It is not necessarily your “divine right” to be whole and healthy, if it is for my glory to use you as you are, why like Paul do you try to remove it? As I showed my servant Paul, my glory is best seen in your inability and disability. Most of my prophets and Apostles were unlearned and regular people who simply allowed me to use them, and I did miraculous things through them. Some first had to be brought low to see that they were not as capable as they thought they were before I could use them. Like Gideon’s 300 soldier case, I had to cut back their numbers so that I would get the glory for the victory and not Gideon. However, in any case, don’t use your particular inability as an excuse not to let me use you as Moses tried to do. If I do choose to use you, be sure to direct all glory on to me.
Glory is often given posthumously
Imagine if on the one hand God were to offer you ahead of time an amazing opportunity for service or some great revelation, but on the other hand, show you the heavy cost you would have to pay for it, would you still take him up on the offer? Think of what God told Ananias about the cost Paul would have to pay regarding his great ministry in Acts 9:15, 16; “15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” I think that many people would and do pass him up on his offer. This is why God doesn’t ask us ahead of time, but rather chooses those whom he knows will respond positively. But regardless, in everyone’s case, Rom 12:1, 2 tells us that God insists that our hearts and minds belong totally to him before he will let us know what his good and perfect will is. Again I say because it is so important, only when we have surrendered our wills and minds to his person, will you be in a place where God can lead you to travel the globe in missionary service or some other great endeavor for his glory. He won’t show you his will ahead of time so that you can turn your nose up at it like a finicky child whose mom is trying to feed him gross food. However ultimately, the choice is yours as to whether you want God to use you. You can submit your life and will to him now, or experience the loss of opportunity. But even if you choose willingly, there are still many lessons that we can only learn through trials. Be aware, be ready, be receptive and be sure to pass the glory to God.
More to come,