Reading & Musing on a Sunday Morning

I was reading a passage of scripture this morning and decided to write my thoughts down, in case anyone is interested.

II Corinthians 12: 2-10

In this account, the Apostle Paul is telling the church members at Corinth about an experience he has had, and the effect this vision has had in his life. He doesn’t name himself, yet Bible scholars agree that he’s telling his own story here.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago…such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Some scholars have read the story of when Paul was stoned and left for dead, wondering if he really did have an out-of-body experience. The Apostle himself isn’t certain, and leaves it open as to whether he was really dead or if this was a vision he had. However, during this experience he saw such beauty and glory, and heard such words as could never be described to an audience here on earth.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

So why doesn’t he tell the world about his experience? Why does he refer to it so discreetly, not mentioning that this happened to him? Why does he rather rejoice that he has these infirmities that drag him down? First, he doesn’t want people lifting him up:

6 For though I would desire to glory…now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Most scholars agree that this “thorn in the flesh” was an infirmity that slowed him down, and probably a disfiguring one. We get the impression from different passages that Paul wasn’t such an attractive man.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God has chosen to leave him weak so that the Spirit of the Lord can speak through him. People aren’t meant to look to Paul for the answers in life. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want people following Paul because he’s physically attractive or such a persuasive orator. So the Lord leaves him with this weakness, one which seems, from other scriptures as well, to be obvious to Paul’s audience.

Paul accepts this situation with grace:
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It’s so human to want to be strong, to be talented, articulate, to have our listeners nod when we present our ideas. The thought of stepping up to speak, either to an individual or to a crowd, and having absolutely no speech planned out is frightening. The thought of stammering and groping for words is abhorrent to most of us. Likewise we’re inclined to shy away from a task if we’ve had no prior experience in that line. None of us want to sound, or look, dumb.

When we lived in Ontario our neighbour was a minister in another denomination. One day his wife explained to me how ministers were hired. A congregation in need will hear of a pastor who wants to move from the place he’s at, so a small delegation from the pastor-less church goes to hear him —or her, in this group— speak. If the pastor presents a good sermon, if they like the looks of him and feel he’d be a good fit for their own congregation, they offer to hire him. (Again, or her.) How tempting would it be to put a lot of effort into making a good physical impression.

Paul has adopted a different mind-set. In one place he says, “The ways of God are higher than ours.” Aware of his own weakness as a human being, he “takes a step back from himself” and rather goes forward in the Lord. The idea of winning followers of using eloquence to gain a good salary, these are laid aside. He doesn’t take pains to please the audience or “keep out of trouble.” He rather lets the words of Jesus flow through him and speak to the hearts of his audience.

This is more pleasing to God and the Gospel more effective, than if Paul could attract listeners and entertain them with his own oratory ability, or persuade them by his skillful reasoning. He leaves us this example, so none of us can feel we’ve nothing to offer. When we feel we have no talent, skills, physical attraction, or never “the right words,” we can comfort ourselves God’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Failures

Wise words from Edgar A Guest

‘Tis better to have tried in vain
sincerely striving for a goal,
than to have lived upon the plain
an idle and a timid soul.

‘Tis better to have fought and spent
your courage, missing all applause,
than to have lived in smug content
and never ventured for a cause.

For he who tries and fails may be
the founder of a better day;
though never his the victory,
from him shall others learn the way.

From his book A Heap O’ Livin

Mystery Blogger Award

What is Mystery Blogger Award?

the-mystery-blogger-award

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”
– Okoto Enigma

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been nominated for this award, created by Okoto Enigma, who would love to have you drop by and say Hello.

Special thanks to Sue at Crooked Creek, who selected me for this award. She likewise would welcome visitors and has written some very interesting and thought-provoking posts.

Award Rules:
– Put the award logo/image on your blog
– List the rules.
– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
– You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
– Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
– Share a link to your best post(s)

Three things about me:
– I have lived in six out of Canada’s ten provinces, and visited New Brunswick & Nova Scotia.
– My siblings were raised by our parents, whereas I was raised by my aunt & uncle. However, we had frequent contact during holidays.
– I’m such a soft-heart that I’ve even been known to rescue sidewalk-stranded earthworms from dehydration after a rain.

The questions I’ve been asked are:
– What influenced you to start blogging?
– Have you ever thought of discontinuing your blog?
– What do you do when you are not writing?
– What is your biggest challenge to blogging?
– The “weird” one: If you were not a human what do you think you’d be?

Answers:
– Over coffee a friend and fellow writer talked of blogging. I said, “Too technical. I could never get it.” She gave me a quick “How to” so I came home and followed her instructions, mainly to prove it was too complex for me.
– Have I ever thought of quitting. Oodles of times. At times I’ve resolved to cease and desist…but then this idea, subject, or experience comes along that I just have to share.
– When I’m not writing I do all the other things that need my attention. Laundry, meals, dishes… Today I dug up part of my long-neglected flowerbed…which inspired a little verse I want to share soon.
– My biggest challenge is time management. That is, not spending all day every day blogging, which is something I really enjoy.
– If I were not a human, I couldn’t think or choose. However, from where I am now…it might be nice to be a bee. They’re social, yet independent, desired and respected.

My best posts are:

Writing Prompt Sources
Life Goes On
The Ages of Women
Baking Bread the Irish Way
The Look
Breaking the Land
Nature Makes Cats Too Smart
It’s Payback Time
The Waters of Babylon
Gift From the Heavens

Most of these posts are flash fiction written for Friday Fictioneers. As I went over my posts to pick out the most viewed and liked, I realize I did my best writing when I was participating in that group. There is definitely merit in a photo prompt and weekly deadline!

Now, as for nominating others…
I’ve no idea who likes to do awards and who doesn’t, so I’m going to take a cue from some other bloggers, and nominate all of you, dear readers. 🙂 If you’d like to accept this award, please do.

Sigh! So many things come to mind for questions one could ask. However, I’ve chosen…

The Questions:
1. What was your favourite recess game, back when you were in grade school?

2. List three of your favourite HUMONGOUS words.
3. What are your three favourite house-plants?

4. When you feel like abandoning your blog, what inspires you to stick with it?
5. The “weird” one: If some small island were looking for a new dictator, would you be a good choice?

I think I have fulfilled all the requirements for the award; now I look forward to seeing your post, if you’re participating, and reading your responses to these questions.
And for anyone, take a moment to consider the questions and leave your answers in a comment below.

Kisses From Above

precious white rain
every flake a kiss
a promise

I don’t know if this is a haiku or not, but it’s definitely a celebration. A nice bunch of snow flurries came down yesterday and continued off and on all evening and into the night. The sun is up so they won’t stay long, but they will do a good work in the short time they are here.

I’m also thankful to be alive and well this morning. Yesterday as I tootled along Circle Drive in Saskatoon a semi coming up the ramp from the right skipped the YIELD sign and pulled right into my path. Thankfully the left lane was clear and I could quickly pull over. If there’d been traffic in that lane, and this on the bridge of the #11 Hwy overpass… It only takes two seconds to change your life completely!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Isaiah 52:7

The Crowded Street

Today’s contribution to National Poetry Month is a long verse by William Cullen Bryant, an American poet who lived from 1794-1878. I often have the same sort of thoughts as I watch humanity flow past me on the crowded street or in a mall.

The Crowded Street

by William Cullen Bryant

Let me move slowly through the street,
filled with an ever-shifting train,
amid the sound of steps that beat
the murmuring walks like autumn rain.

How fast the flitting figures come!
The mild, the fierce, the stony face —
some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some
where secret tears have left their trace.

They pass — to toil, to strife, to rest;
to halls in which the feast is spread;
to chambers where the funeral guest
in silence sits beside the dead.

And some to happy homes repair,
where children, pressing cheek to cheek,
with mute caresses shall declare
the tenderness they cannot speak.

And some, who walk in calmness here,
shall shudder as they reach the door
where one who made their dwelling dear,
its flower, its light, is seen no more.

Youth with pale cheek and slender frame,
and dreams of greatness in thine eye,
goest thou to build an early name
or early in the task to die?

Keen son of trade, with eager brow!
Who is now fluttering in thy snare?
Thy golden fortunes, tower they now,
or melt the glittering spires in air?

Who of this crowd tonight shall tread
the dance till daylight gleam again?
Who, sorrow o’er the untimely dead?
Who, writhe in throes of mortal pain?

Some famine-struck, shall think how long
the cold dark hours, how slow the light;
and some, who flaunt amid the throng,
shall hid in dens of shame tonight.

Each, where his tasks or pleasures call,
they pass, and heed each other not.
There is who heeds, who holds them all
in His large love and boundless thought.

These struggling tides of life, that seem
in wayward, aimless course to tend
are eddies of the mighty stream
that rolls to its appointed end.

He Signed His Name

By Michael D. Blythe

He signed His name in granite
as the mountains tall were formed;
He signed His name in sunlight
and the cold earth slowly warmed.

He signed His name in water
as He filled the seven seas;
He signed His name in fertile soil
where He placed the mighty trees.

He signed His name in clay made flesh
as He created man;
He signed His name on the earth He made
according to His plan.

He signed His name in wrath
as He destroyed the world by flood,
but to save us from our wicked ways,
He signed His name in blood.

Since we’re coming up to the Easter season I’ll post this verse as today’s contribution to National Novel Month. Sadly, Mr Google can’t tell me anything about the writer.