I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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.
I am a sinner. I am dirty, through and through. There is nothing I can do about it. I am a fallen creation. I am not what God intended. I don't have thorns in my side so much as big thick nails.
What brings this up?
Teresa at Be Strong in Grace wrote a post that really resonated with me. Her post spoke of fears she had when it came to the word. She comes from the Evangelical tradition of Christianity. Which, as far as I understand is very, very, very Law based. She writes about the fact that she was afraid of God and Jesus.
I must apologize to all my blogosphere friends, where ever and whomever they may be. I have tried to post something here for the last couple days, but everytime I start typing my brain just kind of shuts down and nothing comes out. I had an entry going in response to something that Teresa wrote last week or so. It as about fear and God and all that kind of stuff. Go read the post, it is probably one of the best posts I've read dealing with the differences between Lutheranism and Evangelical Chrisianity. Basically Lutherans (at least this one, i.e. me) deal with guilt. She wrote that when she was in the Evengelical movement she was more afraid of God and his wrath, if I can use that word, than anything else. She wrote about how that made her feel and what she did to make herself feel better and feel closer to God.
Her post struck a chord in me and I've found myself thinking about it alot the last week or so, particularly while driving to and from work. I have had a hard time quantifying my thoughts about it, though. I understood where she came from, though.
I don't have fear of God. I am not afraid of Him. My faith and religous background help me feel comfortable in the knowledge that Jesus is my saviour and he died for my sins, etc, etc. But I think my problem is, and from what I've been able to gather this feeling is a fairly common Lutheran problem, and that is "guilt" and "shame."
I am guilty of sin, I wrote about that at the beginning of my post,but the shame comes from the "I do it even though I know I shouldn't, but I do it any way." Paul says it much more eloquently in the episles, but I think you understand where I'm coming from.
We all have spirital thorns in our sides. Sometimes I think mine are more like large iron spikes. I find great comfort in the idea that Christ is stronger because of my weeknesses. It doesn't do much for my shame and quilt sometimes, though.
When I was a kid my father had a painting that was framed. It was a big painting, he kept in the attic because he didn't have any place to hang it. That painting used to scare the be-jesus out of me. I'm not sure why though. The painting was of a either a man or a woman, I can't remember exactly, but I seem to recall a rather androginous charcter. This person was on a very tiny island in the middle of a raging sea, holding on to a thick, rock cross for dear life. That painting always made me feel uncomfortable. I finally got my father to get rid of that painting. But as I write this I am reminded of it for another reason. I often find myself feeling like that person in the painting. Scared or what is going on around me and looking for something to hold on to. Sadly, though I don't always hold on to or seek the right thing and instead of being held fast I find myself floating and being thrashed about.
Wow, this turned into something I wasn't expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, actually. I just hope you went and read Teresa'spost that is the most important thing.