“Thorn in my Flesh”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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.

Paul an apostle of Jesus along with all other servants of the Lord in the Bible faced suffering. But what I’m astonished by is the persecution they faced and what they thought about it. Did they blame God for their suffering? No. They accepted it as part of their journey. It was inevitable because they were doing the work of the Lord. They understood that their was a fight in the spiritual world much bigger than they imagined. It’s unseen but it’s ugly and it comes with a battle.

The fight for Paul was “a thorn in his flesh” given by SATAN himself which was to keep him from becoming conceited….. that part to me is interesting. Prior to becoming Paul he was Saul. If you study about Saul the very thing he struggled with the most was being prideful. Prior to his transformation in truly coming to know the heart of Jesus~he persecuted the Christians. It makes me wonder if this “thorn in his flesh” was the way God kept him humble after he became a servant of the Lord. The word of God says he begged the Lord to have it removed as it continued to Torment him.

But look at what the Lord says….

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 blown away by this. It shows me that the wilderness that we face, persecutions, diseases, storms and difficulties are indeed a part of our journey. We are not excused from suffering because we are Christians.

Likewise, we will be tormented by SATAN all the more. BUT the beauty behind suffering is the power of Jesus which is made known through our weaknesses.

So some may ask does God want us to suffer? No, I don’t believe that. I believe the devil wants us to suffer bc we are doing the work of the lord. We live in a sinful world where evil exists and because of the fall we live in an imperfect world. Hurting people hurt people if they do not have freedom. The devil hates that we are striving to do the work of the Lord despite the storms in life. So he uses calamities and sin to try and get us to stop “persevering” and to stop fighting.

So then why does God not remove that suffering from us? If he doesn’t remove it then he is the cause of it right? NO. The word of God says he has a purpose and a plan for us. It is NOT to harm us but to give us HOPE and a future.

Then why do we suffer? Because suffering produces endurance, it builds character and what Paul says here is it, “DEFEATS” the Devil in a very powerful way when we continue to STAND despite life’s calamities. When we STAND in Christ’s strength it defeats the enemy. It causes an uproar in heaven from all the Saints as it shows that when we are weak we can be 💪 in Christ.

We are in an unseen battle that is ongoing but the question is what are we doing not in our strength but in the Lords strength? What are we doing to bring Glory to the Lord despite the “thorn in our flesh”? What is our storm that we have overcome in the name of Jesus like Paul? What weaknesses can we boast about simple because we know it brings Glory to the Lord? What are we doing to bring Glory to the Lord despite the “thorn in our flesh”?   Are we continuing to focus on loving others, being kind, showing others the love of Jesus? Or is our focus on our suffering? This hit home for me because our focus can be the “thorn” or our focus can be to conquer and continue healing in Christ Jesus. Our focus can be all that we continue to suffer or it can be shining to influence more people to find freedom through Christ Jesus.

I believe each one of us as a list much like the one below that we have endured much like Paul in this life. Paul did not boast of his suffering he boasted that in his weakness he continued to draw strength from the Lord and he continued to fight for light over darkness. He continued to fight for equality amongst the Gentiles and the Jews. He continued to fight for acceptance among all people. He continued to fight for love, justice and mercy. 

Paul’s says, “I have been flogged more severely,(R) and been exposed to death again and again.(S) 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes(T) minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods,(U) once I was pelted with stones,(V) three times I was shipwrecked,(W) I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews,(X) in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city,(Y) in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.(Z) 27 I have labored and toiled(AA) and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;(AB) I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.(AC) 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?(AD) Who is led into sin,(AE) and I do not inwardly burn?30 If I must boast, I will boast(AF) of the things that show my weakness.(AG) 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever,(AH) knows(AI) that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.(AJ) 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.(AK)”

My Journey to Yours,

DJ

Invasive Vines are Like Lies

This morning I went out to pick some flowers off my Moms bush to put in a vase. I noticed it had this nasty invasive vine that had wrapped its arms tightly around it. It weaved around the plant itself and up the arms. The vine also had this ugly white sticky junk all over it. It was basically eating and choking out my Moms flowers. I went in to get some scissors and started cutting the vine and pulling it off. It was all entangled and every time I freed a branch away from the vine it just seemed so happy. The flowers heads lifted.

The vine was so entangled it was hard to distinguish.
Flower set free from vines~head lifted 🙂

As I was freeing the plant the Lord was speaking to my heart. He reminded me of how the devil uses lies like this vine to entangle us so deeply that often the truth of who we are becomes choked our. This poor plants flowers were beginning to wilt in some places and it just looked desperate to be set free. It wanted to blossom and breath again. Once I unwrapped the arms of the vine from around the flowers stems it popped back up and reached up high to the sky. It seemed as though I had just given it back some life. 

Similarly we often believe lies about our worth. We believe lies that say, “we are good for nothing, unable, not strong, unloveable, ugly, slipping away, imperfect, flawed, unworthy, and weak”. We all know what lies are in our heads but what are we doing to uproot them? One of the main things I realized was at the source of every branch entangled is a root. Unless we uproot that root those lies will just come right back to haunt us. They will rob use again and again. This is not the first time this plant has been entangled. I don’t know if you have ever tried to uproot a vine but it is extremely strong. The same goes for the lies that the devil has implanted deep in our hearts and our minds. 

So how do we uproot these strong lies? Well first we need to acknowledge what they are. Often times we aren’t paying attention to what’s in our minds. Then we need to bring them to the Lord. We need to ask him what the truth is. Listing the lies next to truth is freeing. We need to find scripture verses and things in our lives that demolish every lie at its source. What is the opposite of that lie? What does God say about that lie and where did it come from? Did the lie come from hurtful words spoken when we were a child? Did it come from abuse? Was that abuse our fault? As we all have experienced these lies are strong. They often won’t go away over night. We have created a pattern of allowing invasive lies to abolish truth. We even have begun to agree with the lies which is basically allowing lies to win. So in order to uproot the lies we need to create me habits. We need to renounce the lies and replace them with the truth. When it comes to haunt us we immediately replace the negative with positive. If we don’t then like scripture says we can clean up our minds and all that’s negative inside. But then it’s only time before they will come back to haunt us all over but this time they will be even stronger then they were before. We can’t just cut the branches we have to uproot them or kill the source of the lie.

The devil is the ultimate deceiver he uses lies because once we agree with them they have the power to literally wilt away our heart, mind and souls. Invasive lies~like vines do kill, steal and destroy. That is the devils goal. If he destroys us then we are one less person to bring truth to set free another entangled heart. When we acknowledge what God says about us and we start burning the lies with truth it’s then~that true freedom begins. 
When we get set free then it is our job to go and set the other captives free.

Keep Flying!
My Journey to Yours

Regrowth~After Burned Fields

The smell of fresh wet dew early in the morning, deep high in the mountains, is a smell that one will never forget. Another smell that is very distinct, is the smell of a burning field. I used to smell both of these smells frequently in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. The villagers would burn the fields in hopes that rain would come plentiful to replenish their crops. The two very different smells stuck with me and are now resounding a different message in my heart.

The cycle of forgiveness after going through divorce has been much like these two smells. I have been going through a season of burning down my past resentments, shame and regrets. To move forward in life, we often have to face the things inside of us that are pungent and needing to be burned. The largest field inside of my heart, that needed burning has been resentment. Resentments are like weeds that overtake a field, crowd the flowers and snuff out any joy you might have. When this happens their is no room for growth. Your field is basically in ruins. Resentment is a choice. We can hold onto the feelings of unforgiveness and anger towards someone or we can learn to let it go. How do we let them go? Letting go is a process. It takes journaling out the pain and asking God to show areas of your past that did the most damage. Maybe someone said something and you have been meditating on, those negative words instead of allowing truth, rule your heart. Letting go is reflecting on these areas in our hearts and leaving them at the cross. Some feelings we do no know what to do with. Some emotions we don’t know how to filter. However, when we write down what it is that we feel and what memory is attached, than we can ask God to sweep in and clean up those areas.

The process of regrowth takes time. It is very similar to what the villagers do in Papua New Guinea. If an area is too difficult to plow, you may just need to burn it down. But how do we burn a field of weeds? Well I have been going through a process of forgiving my ex husband. It has not been easy. I want to trash mouth him because he trashed my heart. He mistreated me and abused me. Over time, I have asked God to help me know how to burn down these fields because they are eating away at my heart not his. My ex husband is not effected by the resentment inside of me. So I started doing something extremely difficult. I started praying for him every day. I started claiming scripture over the lies that were in my heart. I do this daily. I do it repeatedly. When my heart or mouth wants to say something bad I pray for my enemies. I pray for my heart to be free. I pray for Gods loving eyes and perspective. I write a list of all my failures and then remind myself of Gods Grace towards me.

This process has been burning down the resentments. I feel a sense of regrowth. I feel like little sprouts of green are shooting up all around the burned areas and a new field is ready for crops! The smell of forgiveness is in my heart and wet dew drops are infiltrating the dried up and ugly places. We have a choice. We can choose regrowth or we can stick to a unplowed, tangled field.

My Journey to Yours

Debbie Jackson

Isaiah 35:7

The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

Acceptance~Divorce

The most freeing part of divorce is when one finally realizes the past “triggers” no longer trigger pain. They walk in familiar places from their past, where once there would have been buckets of tears and now what remains is just a fragment of a memory. The madness is gone, the anger, the rage, the misunderstandings and all the shame.

Finally deep inside they have come to find a still place of peace. A place of contentment. A place that says its “ok” you are in the hands of God. They understand life is moving forward and what remains instead of pain is a “sweet” place of acceptance.

The hardships were never “sweet” but knowing they have fully pushed past the past is “freeing.” The tears and questions that once plagued their nights is gone. The “newness” has come and all that was ugly is gone.

Most importantly in their hearts, they have finally found an incredible, insatiable forgiveness that could only come from one place~Jesus. Miraculously~ the same acceptance that Jesus gave them in their darkest most sinful moment is now ~theirs to freely give the one that hurt them the most. Acceptance is a sweet place of surrender. A place that in time finds its place in a deep unforgettable romance with Christ.

My Journey to Yours
~DJ