Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Thorn in My Flesh

A Thorn in My Flesh
By Tamara “Tami” Blue

For years I have struggled with physical limitations and afflictions which seem to start from the top of my head all the way down to my feet. And for years I have prayed for healing from the various afflictions and pain that I deal with on a daily basis. Many do not comprehend the extent of struggle I deal with because to look at me one would think I was healthy and fully able bodied. I try not to complain too much and my mind often tries to override my body. My will is strong but fights against the reality of my physical state and often only succeeds in landing my rear grounded for several days at a time.

As I have shared some of what I am going through with a friend- she has said what I am going through is “illegal”. God love her, I thank her for her faith and desire in me being healed. But the Bible clearly indicates that God allows things which we would like to think are “illegal” or “unauthorized attacks”. We, in our natural mind can’t comprehend a loving God allowing such a thing. But this week after coming home from another doctor’s visit, I found myself crying & praying to God once again to heal my hurting body. He lovingly nudged me to open my Bible and as I flipped it open- it opened to 2 Corinthians 12 and my eyes immediately fixed on verses 7-10:

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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’ve read this many times before but this time around it hit the hurt in my mind over the struggle and shed great light. God has allowed for me to be buffeted me for purpose. Again, the mind wants to override this thought because it would seem that I am accepting this position and letting go of faith in my healing, I’m not. Another such person in the Bible would be Jacob-

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” –Genesis 32:24-26

Throughout the Bible there are those whose speech was impaired, they suffered physical affliction; they suffered great persecution and countless challenges. And, what about the book of Job… I recognize that I’m not promised healing in this lifetime. I am though promised that God will never leave me, nor forsake me, that I am chosen, called and destined as a follower of Christ and a daughter of the Most High!

My friend and I are similar in our desire that none should struggle affliction. There are times when God fires my faith so strong for the healing of others. He has woken me up at night to pray, alerted my spirit during the day and given me clear words to deliver of assured healing. And, praise be to God- I have been witness to His very words about promised healing coming to pass in others’ lives. But still to this day I am not yet healed and as time has progressed so has the onset of more afflictions. I am yet again facing two surgeries which bring the hope of healing yet also a warning that it may not.

Regardless of the challenges I face, possible surgeries and or a life time of struggle, affliction and pain, I need to accept God’s purpose in allowing this. And, I need to accept that I may never be completely healed while alive in this body. I am learning that although it does not feel okay physically and at times even mentally, it is because God’s grace is sufficient to get me through. Because I am weak, it allows Him to be strong. I cannot depend upon my own strength to succeed in His purposes; I am completely reliant upon Him. Everything I do or He sets me to do is dependent upon His strength to help me accomplish the tasks He’s given.

Long ago I made the vow to God that my life was His to use as He wished, my life was not my own. God has held me to that promise and it becomes more and more evident as time goes on. It is hard for me to sit too long, stand for very long, bend this way or that way, hard for me to use my arms, hands and even hold my head up for long periods… And, even travel is difficult and yet it is one of the biggest desires of my heart. Because of this it makes it difficult for me to hold down a regular full time job outside of the home. I am also limited in the activities that I do and or participate in. It is at times very frustrating for someone with a very active mind such as me. Mentally, I am a can do person. Mentally, when someone says to me I can’t- I like to prove, I can. I am persistent in some things but am learning to let go in others. I have proven to myself (by God’s grace) that I can do and can accomplish great things. But the moment I step outside of His timing and or will- He shows me “I can’t” through the thorn(s) in my flesh.

I realized that He is teaching me the art of “suffering well” and yet still stand on and in faith and in His promises for my life, and for the lives of others. I am realizing that though I am not healed in body- He has allowed me to be a conduit, a vessel in which He delivers healing to others. And I am reminded of many great evangelists, prophets, teachers… that have also served God in spite of the buffeting of affliction in their own bodies. I am reminded of the great exploits they did in partnership with God and via His grace & strength, not their own.

Might have God known something that maybe I didn’t? Could these afflictions actually be a source of salvation to my own pride? Might I have become too proud, arrogant and or puffed up in my own flesh if my body were healthier, fit, and or more able? Could it be that though I can’t imagine myself overly proud- that God could? Could He have sent a messenger of satan to buffet me for my own benefit? It seems absurd to our natural thinking and yet God uses foolishness to confound the wise.

The area where my healing has come and continues to come is in my thinking and understanding. God is expanding my understanding and knowledge of His ways. He is teaching me the art of taking on the mind of Christ- which doesn’t always make sense to man but is perfectly logical to God, His ways and eminent knowledge. He is reminding me of who He is and who I am not via various aspects of my life and thinking. He is showing me that Paul who is considered one of the greatest apostles- suffered affliction but that He learned the art of suffering well despite the thorn in his flesh. He learned to “count it all joy” because it was small compared to the call of God on His life and to the coming glory and eternal promises.

I have known and know many people who are afflicted in one way or another who though afflicted have learned the art of suffering well and living out the call of God upon their lives despite any challenges they have or do face. I both admire them and hope to as they have- really learn the art of suffering well despite the thorns in my flesh.

Is there a thorn or are there thorns in your flesh, mind, emotions, thinking… allow God to show you His grace for your life. May the Spirit of revelation be upon you to help you understand and know the will of God for your life! Be empowered by His strength and His Word which is all sufficient.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Ponderings - Set Free Through Our Judgments

Daily Ponderings – Set Free Through Our Judgments
By Tamara “Tami” Blue

We know that the Bible states that by the same measure that we judge, we will be judged (Matthew 7:1-2). In my own life I know this to be true, some of the things I have judged I am or have been also judged for. I have written and shared on one of those judgments before but again today it came to me because not only was it a previous judgment but it has become a testimony of sorts.

That judgment that I once judged is regarding Holy Spirit laughter- I once judged it as ungodly, not of God. And then one day- BAM! I got hit with it and could not stop- wave after wave of laughter. I could not stop, I was somewhat embarrassed because I felt I was making a spectacle of myself and yet I was not in control. There have been times of being overcome by Holy Spirit in wave after wave of laughter and tears sweeping over me- so healing and so freeing and yet, so contrary to my previous beliefs. God being the wonderful amazing God that he is took me into a new thing and into a new dimension of who He is and who I’m not.

Since that first experience I’ve been overcome several times by Holy Spirit laughter and a fire over my body (which literally can be felt by others). And, yes, I have been judged harshly for it by some whose beliefs don’t allow for such a thing to be of God. It grieves me at times to be judged for this and yet I once was the person who was doing the judging, and I understand where it is coming from. I try not to be one who wishes harm or judgment on others- that Godly conviction inside of me most often prevents me from going there and overriding my mind and or emotions. But I have to admit that in this one subject I make an exception. I do wish that in this particular judgment, that those who judge me will themselves be judged for the same. Why would I wish this? Because I know personally the healing benefits and many purposes in which Holy Spirit would allow such a thing to occur. And, because I have learned much about the very thing I judged. My modesty mask has been stripped away for my own benefit and for the healing benefit of others and I praise God for it! God can use all things to His glory and for our benefit which in turns ultimately becomes of benefit to others- even our judgments. In a moment that I was not expecting it God took me from one dimension of understanding to another.

At first, I did not completely understanding and tried to rationalize it out by human reasoning. But since that time I have been overcome by His Holy Spirit on several occasions. In those times it opened up more of my understanding. He speaks so gently, so lovingly and yet even very silly to me in those moments and it reveals a new mystery of who He is to me. In those times He allows my spirit to become more sensitive and my hearing sometimes to be altered but in a marvelous revelatory way. I might hear a person mention a worry they have in that moment and God shows me how silly that worry is from His perspective. He shares his amusement with me and in that moment where I am overcome by laughter. I have been witness to watching as that person who shared the worry- all of the sudden came to a personal realization and then laughter as well, healing revelatory laughter. It’s wonderful, so joyous to be a part of this- to watch as a person relinquishes certain fears, masks or other things that had held them back.

Since the first time of being smacked upside my head with God’s silly stick- He has used my willingness to let Him have His way in and over me to bring healing to others. I now consider this one judgment- joy. He stripped away a layer that held me back from allowing Him dominion over me. He has set me free in this area so that He can use me to set others free. I have become a conduit for His fire and His joy. I take joy in being used by God in this new wonderful way. I take great joy in embracing others in a beautiful healing hug and having the joy, the fire and laughter of the Holy Spirit overcome me and spill onto the one I’m hugging, especially those who were downcast (wow, what a privilege). My prior judgment in this area has become an anointing, how mysteriously marvelous is that? God uses foolishness to confound the wise, His ways are not our ways, and they are higher, wider, deeper, and even mysteriously strange to our human reasoning.

So in conclusion people- judge me for the laughter that comes over me in the Holy Spirit; judge me for the wild, undignified outbursts of fiery laughter. I will rejoice in it because I know that our God is an incredibly just God and will use this and other things to bring us all together eventually in understanding and unity. I look forward to the day when we are all ROFLOL together with Jesus.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be the YOU God Created YOU to Be

Be the YOU God Created YOU to Be
By Tamara “Tami” Blue

I ponder on things a lot with God. While pondering one day about two months ago a thought started stirring- about being the “you” that God created you to be. I have taken lately to telling folks- “you be you and I’ll be me and it will all be good”. What I am saying is that I cannot be you and you cannot be me and if we allow for each to be “who” God created us individually to be then things will go well for us.

We all have seen other people that we like, we like their style, the way they talk, the confidence they carry… You know those people who seem to have it all together? We want to emulate certain traits they possess thinking it will help us to be more likeable, more valuable, more interesting, maybe even more prosperous. There is no question that we as humans tend to mimic that which we are surrounded by, our parents, those who had a hand in rearing us. Our schooling has shaped the way we might think and approach life. There may have been one particular person that had great influence upon our lives and we’ve taken on some of their characteristics. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it is good to improve upon who we are especially if we have been living with negative traits. But we need to be the “us” God created “us” to be- not a cheap imitation of who He created someone else to be.

But through my life this has been at times a real challenge. Often I have felt as though I was not good enough to be the “me” that God created me to be. Growing up- most in my life seemed to have one complaint or another about me; I cried too much, I was too sensitive, my hair was red (as if that was a bad thing), I was not a boy, I wanted too much, I never seemed happy and never smiled enough, I was just like my mom, I was fat, I was stupid, etc… Rarely, did I hear a pleasant word about who I was; rarely did I hear words of affirmation or of value. It seemed that I was an inconvenience, a mistake, unwanted… This is what me as a child heard.

Those negative complaints are not the good positive makings to help a child/a person be the best they could be. Or to help me be the “me” that God created me to be. I felt I had little value, I was disliked and unwanted and even a feeling of being unlovable. From my family, to my school mates and friends, acquaintances… someone always seemed to pick out a flaw in me that they disliked.

How many others out there might have grown up feeling much the same? How many others have struggled with their identity, with who they were growing up and who they are now and who they were created to be. There is much talk about our culture having an identity crisis. I know for me through my life that has been true. But God’s still small voice inside of me always spoke the same message over and over and is the reason I am alive today; “You were created for much more than you are experiencing, I created you for greater than this”. His words to me would come at the darkest moments and be the rope that helped pull me out of the darkest pits. Those words always left an impression of being destined for greatness. His words spoken to my hurting spirit left me with a deep knowing that I was created for greatness, for His purposes which were grander than the darkness I was enduring.

Among my close friends and family now they view me as outgoing, fun loving, silly, caring, encouraging, etc… Yet, they also know that I can also be quite serious and also bold depending on the moment and situation. But in larger gatherings there is still that side of me that is shy, somewhat uncomfortable, reserved and stands at a distance watching and testing the waters. This is the part of me that is still a work in progress- the part of me that is still learning to be comfortable in my own skin and the part of me that is learning to be the “me” that God created me to be. There are aspects of me that aren’t perfect and or ideal to others still to this day. And, I still deal with insecurity at times and not always happy with the me that I am. I get nervous around new people or in situations that I am not used to and or people I don’t know. In those times I might say something that might come out oddly in my nervous attempt to make conversation. I walk away criticizing myself and feeling foolish. It is not the “me” that God created, but the “me” that the world created when I was told I was of no value, not good enough… There are still aspects of me that need to be refined and gently molded by the master creator, my Heavenly Father.

Again, as a child and even into adulthood I have been told I was/am too sensitive. This has always grated on me; I’ve always disliked this remark. I know it is truth but it does not have to be a negative. I’ve always had a knowing that I was created this way for a purpose. It is in how I function in it that can be the problem, but not that I am sensitive. Before my late teen years I was teased for having red hair. This teasing aided in me learning to really dislike my hair color. My hair color was different than most and caused me to stand out, kids made fun of it and it made me feel somewhat ostracized from the rest. But after high school something changed, people started remarking favorably in regards to my medium- auburn “red” hair. As I got into Beauty/Cosmetology school I came to realize just how rare my hair color was and how difficult it was to mimic in the salon. At a certain point I started to get many favorable remarks from men, women, older folks… It was a needed boost for this gal and helped me to appreciate one aspect of “me” that God created. Sadly though, by the time I really came to appreciate my hair color- I started noticing the first gray hair (sigh…). We must learn to appreciate certain aspects of ourselves before it’s too late, fades away and or is gone with age or by unforeseen circumstances.

There might be aspects about me that are simply the way I am created to be that others will always find fault in. But I have learned that sometimes they are also a positive and purposed. I might be too pale skinned for some, I might not have the perfect figure, I might be too sensitive at times, I might not be the most intelligent in the bunch, my grammar might not be perfect, my speech may not always be articulate, I might laugh out in joy too loud for some peoples liking, I might not dress the most tailored, elegantly, and or stylish as some, I might not have all man’s credentials & degrees that seem to be needed in order to be valued by man… I might not be what others want me to be, but that is okay. I am learning to be the “me” that God created me to be. I am learning that not only did He form me, has chosen me, that His Son died for me… but that He actually loves, values, cares about & for, wants, desires, and delights in me! He sits in Heaven and with the angels and hosts of Heaven roots me on to His upward calling. He is for me and not against me. The world may hate me, dislike me, may not be approving or affirming of me- But my God in Heaven is and that is such good news and what the gospel is all about! Certain things have helped to shape me, my ideals, and the way I am. Those things may not have all been positive but God can use all things to His glory and for our callings in Him.

I want you to know that God formed “you” before the foundations of the world (Proverbs 8:22-23;25) and also in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13;15). Not only did He have a part in creating “you” but He chose you (John 15:19). When the world say’s you are unlovely, unwanted, undesirable, not pleasing, not successful, etc… know that His Word say’s that He created you just the way you are and He has chosen you!

You are authentic, there is no one else in the world that looks like you, has the same finger prints as you, has the same moles, wrinkles, distinguishable smile, characteristics and or attributes as you! You are unique, divinely created and there will ever only be one you. How incredible is that? I cannot be you, and you cannot be me. We can pretend for a while and try to mimic another but eventually it will fail because we are not being the true us that we were created to be. We will only become a cheap imitation of someone else and cheapen what God has created and chosen to be unique, unlike any other. Look beyond the faults you see in yourself, look beyond where you are currently in your emotions and or where you have been. Look beyond to the horizon where God sits waiting for you to discover the unique you that He created you to be. There is only one you and He is eagerly waiting for you to discover all that He created you to be.

One positive aspect of who I am as God Himself created me to be is as an Encourager/Exhorter. This is the primary gifting. I have many gifts from God, but this is my primary calling that becomes clearer over time. It is a gift that is second nature to me and something I don’t have to try hard at. So that being said, I want to encourage you today- to be the YOU that God in Heaven created YOU to be. I want to encourage you to take all the things that others say they don’t like about you- to God. Inquire of Him about those aspects of who you are. Are they who God created you to be? Seek Him, learn who you are in Him, let Him show you the unique you that He created you to be. Even in the negative statements that others make about you- you can find God’s truth about how God created you. Go to Him; let Him teach you to learn to use those aspects that others see as negative about you- to His ultimate positive use and glory.

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