“In affliction, then, we do not know what it is right to pray for. Because affliction is difficult, troublesome, and against the grain for us, weak as we are, we do what every human would do. We pray that it may be taken away from us. However, if he does not take it away, we must not imagine that he has forgotten us. In this way, power shines forth more perfectly in weakness.”
Have you ever suffered from an ingrown toenail?
There’s no pain quite like it, because you can’t get away from it. With every step the tenderness becomes more acute – the throbbing and discomfort graduate into pricking, stinging, shooting, burning, stabbing torment.
Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, I let it go for so long that when I finally went to a podiatrist, he said he’d never seen one as bad as mine. So he took photos to submit to a medical journal.
What an idiot! All I had to do was treat my big toe’s affliction from the start, and I would have avoided all kinds of agony. But no, I let it go.
What followed was surgery, removal of the entire nail, bad regrowth (do you know how long it takes a toenail to regrow? 12-18 months!), another removal and regrowth, surgery again, until now: there’s a narrow, discolored, misshapen, hard, thick nail acting as a poor substitute for the healthy keratin that used to be there.
And it will never be right. The trauma that my toe suffered turned a minor, fixable problem into a permanent, scarred, sometimes painful appendage.
Is this a picture of the American Church today?
Focused inward. Growing deeper into itself. Causing pain and discomfort to those connected to it. Infection creeping in. Redness and swelling puffing out the sides. Oozing pus, blood and bodily liquids. Excruciating pain.
Nasty, isn’t it? But can we take an honest look at it?
Why is it so difficult to trim the Church properly? Why will we not admit that there’s a problem? Maybe because none of us want to lose control over or involvement in “our ministry.”
You know, all those things we do at church that keep us occupied with ourselves. Classes for inner healing, dieting, financial success, divorce recovery, discovering our spiritual gifts and where we fit in. Fellowships around quilting, crafting, eating, manhood, womanhood, fatherhood, motherhood and getting out of the hood. Services for inner healing, outer healing, personal prophetic utterances and fillings and fillings and fillings and fillings and fillings …
Am I stepping on any toes yet?
OUCH! That hurts. Sorry. I realize there are valid and necessary ministries and practices of the Church mentioned above, but if that’s ALL we do, then we’re unbalanced, ingrown, self-absorbed and uncaring.
If we think that’s God’s Grand Plan for the people of this planet, then we are downright delusional. C’mon, people, we’re supposed to give Him away!
The more we wrap the “foot” of the Church in a tight, repressive shoe of self-focused activities, the more we suffer. As we continue to look inward we neglect looking outward, and our true ministry – to reconcile the world unto God – is left undone.
God is love. He saved us from sin and brokenness, degradation and eternal damnation. He became us, then took our place of shame to set us free.
So now we’re free.
Why do we want to bind ourselves up and keep all this Love to ourselves? All God wants is for us to give it away. To be a blessing to the nations. As Abraham’s spiritual seed, we are called to bless all the families of the earth, and we’re not going to get that done when we continue to linger at the altar of brokenness.
We’re fixed already! Let’s put those things behind us and move on to what we are created to be. Sons and daughters of the Most High God. Children of the King of the Universe. Followers of Jesus Christ, the Savior of our very souls.
This is who we are. Can we now trim off the excess please, before it grows down beneath the skin of our churches and infects us all?