Oct 8, 2012

The Even Bigger God

It is one thing to encounter the God who deals with the needs of our soul.  It is entirely another to encounter the God who takes on the needs of our days.  The God of our souls is certainly big.  But, in some sense, the God of our everyday need is even bigger.

The Apostle Paul recounts in the New Testament how he sought God three times for one such need, what he called his, “thorn in the flesh.”  We are not entirely certain of the nature of the problem to which Paul was referring.  But, we know it was a difficulty which was both insurmountable and enduring.
So, Paul was completely outmatched in this struggle.  

Thus, He goes on to relate that he “pleaded with the Lord” to take this “thorn” away.  And this was the Lord’s answer to him.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This was probably not the answer that Paul was hoping for, at least at first.  He was probably hoping that Christ would answer in His “almighty-ness” and simple flick the problem out of existence with His divine finger. 

Most of us, when facing a similar intimidation, probably, approach God, initially, in that same way.  Our first hope is probably just to gain a quick fix. 

But, as the Lord indicated to Paul by His answer, there is another solution which God often chooses to employ as an alternative to instant deliverance.  It is the “graceful solution.” And that is the solution that He offers to Paul for his “thorn.”

This offer of Grace instead of Raw Power may sometimes be disappointing, at least initially, to those who are actually enduring the pain of some overwhelming problem.  But, when we understand the full implications of the graceful approach, then we do gain some comfort and hope.  And that encouragement begins with the word Grace, itself.

It is often the case in more recent times that Grace is merely understood to be God’s “unmerited favor.”  This definition actually better defines Mercy.And, mercy is certainly a product of God’s grace.  But Grace is a much larger term than Mercy, and so, the two don’t equally interchange. 

Grace, as generally defined by any dictionary, is best and more accurately understood to be “an innate or naturally occurring goodness.”  And, that is precisely how it should be understood in the New Testament usages.

So, what we are really seeing in the Lord’s offer of His graceful sufficiency to Paul is His willingness to bring the innate goodness of His divine nature to bear.  Christ is offering to put His natural goodness to work in Paul’s behalf. 

This is the same Grace (natural goodness) which designed the redemptive plan for mankind.  This is the same innate goodness mentioned in the Book of Ephesians, where Paul writes, “For by grace [God’s natural goodness] you have been saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”  So, Christ is offering to employ His own limitless goodness to design and provide a wonderful solution for Paul’s dilemma.

But, why?  Why not simply use His “mighty cosmic powers” to just instantly remove the problem?  Why travel the longer path of the graceful solution, when quick and easy are so available.

Some time ago my 10 year old grandson came to visit me.  In his hand was a Walmart bag.  In the bag was a bunch of parts from a lamp, now thoroughly broken.  Together, he and I built this lamp for his room, a couple of years before. 

He said, “Paw Paw my lamp is broken.  Will you fix it for me?” 

Now, I could have said, “Oh, let’s just run to Walmart, and I will buy you a new one.”  That would be the quick and easy, “almighty power of Paw Paw,” flick the problem away, kind of solution, of course.

But, I much prefered the gracefulness of another solution.  That is the solution where I take my grandson to our beloved place, my workshop in the back yard, and we spend time together doing what he needs done. 

There, while we fix the lamp, we will talk about a thousand things.  We will tease each other.  We will challenge each other.  We will laugh.  We will brainstorm. We will tell tall tales. 

And he will learn, not only about lamps, but about Paw Paw, and Paw Paw's values, and Paw Paw's God.  And I will learn the details of his life.  And our love, and the depth of our relationship, will grow through this purely good time as it unfolds.

That is the answer to the “Why.”  God chooses to employ Grace, to allow His natural goodness to unfold before us, to set up the interactive process of relationship building.  And, in that interaction, our love grows, and our relationship is deepened, and we are transformed.

Paul’s response, when He eventually understood the inestimable worth of what God was doing for him, was this. “Therefore, most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

Paul eventually understood that his troubles were only the opportunity to experience a new level of relationship.  And, it was the unfolding natural goodness of Christ’s which became the matrix for it all. 

The simple reality is this.  What life presents as trouble, grace (the divine goodness) is able to transform into a good, life and character changing experience.  It is the kind of  experience which allow us to discover the even bigger God in ways not previously known.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." - The Apostle, Paul

Another article regarding "Grace" which you may find interesting is "The Nature Of Grace."  
                           Go To:  "The Nature Of Grace" article.