Monday, September 13, 2010

Living by Grace

Some people live the grace of God much better than most others, Annie Johnson Flint was one of them...

   Annie Flint was born in the Johnston home where she lost her mother, then shortly after lost her father too and was raised by the Flint family. After she graduated from college, she contracted arthtitis in one of its most crippling forms and lay in bed for not one or two years, but for decades of her life. And if that wasn't bad enough she lost control of her internal organs and to her utter embarrasment had to live on diapers for many years of her life.And if that wasn't humiliating enough she began to become blind and cancer began to take its toll...according to one eyewitness, who wrote a book(called Making of the Beautiful), the last time he saw her, she had seven pillows cushioning her body from keeping the sores from inflicting undescribable agony. She moved to Clifton Springs, NY, in hope of finding a cure. Instead, she had to give up her dreams of being a concert pianist and live in constant pain, writing with twisted hands and body. Annie sought always to leave everything with Her Lord. After nearly 50 years of suffering submitted to Him, her last words were, “It’s all right.”

Life has a way of pushing us aside—of kicking us when we are down. Faith in God does not provide a guarantee against pain or loss. Good people suffer. Good people die in the prime of their life. Good people lose their jobs. And we cry out, “Life’s not fair.” Do you want “fair” to rule in your life? Try golf.

Even the great Apostle Paul had his “Thorn.” “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NKJV)

The New Living Translation renders that key verse this way:
                 “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”

The Greek word for sufficient means “to be content…to raise a barrier…to ward off that which pushes us to one side.” Basically, “sufficient” means grace that is enough, but not super abundant, fantastic, huge, or incredible.

Sufficient does not say to us, “Grow up.” It doesn’t say, “Get over it.” It doesn’t say, “You’ll understand it better by and by.” It just says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It says, “I am standing with you in this situation.” That’s really all we need to know.

Some of you who are reading these words know what “sufficient” means. You understand the feeling of loss, or failure, or pain, or loneliness, or disappointment. A “thorn” is a picnic compared to what you have experienced. Paul called his thorn “a messenger of Satan.” But God (aren’t you thankful for the “But God” affirmations in Scripture?) had another message for Paul, and for us. He said through Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And it is. Hear the words of Annie Flint’s hymn:

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
(Words by Annie Johnson Flint; Music by Hubert Mitchell)

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