Friday, November 17, 2017

“A Thorn… and the Rose”

"A Thorn… and the Rose"

    I will likely hear "Happy Thanksgiving" sincerely expressed many times in the next week by family, friends, congregants in services, and even from strangers met along the pathways of life.  None, however, will likely find a place in my memory like Mr. Lafitte's utterance as we left a service held several days ago.

    At first, I did not understand what Mr. Lafitte attempted to say.  He suffered a stroke many years ago, and in the time we have known him has been confined to a wheelchair.  He cannot clearly speak, although he enunciates well enough to let us know that "Amazing Grace" is his favorite hymn.  The smile that illuminates his face when we sing the familiar hymn tells us that.  So, as I leaned down to shake his left hand (his right is paralyzed and withered), I wasn't sure what he attempted to say.  Perhaps it was the smile that interpreted.  As I realized the Thanksgiving greetings that came forth from garbled words, I knew that I would not hear a clearer or more blessed invocation of grace from any voice, or any heart during the coming days.

   "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

   Mr. Lafitte reminded me of the Lord's counsel to the Apostle Paul, pierced by a thorn in the flesh God allowed to remain with His servant: "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).  Had the Lord removed Paul's thorn, much of the Light that shined forth from our brother of old might not be ours to see.  Weakness became a vessel for God's strength, even as it kept the Apostle in the place of humility required for all who receive and express "abundance of the revelations" (II Corinthians 12:7).  The thorns our Lord allows to remain with us, in whatever form, often serve the same purpose of forming a seemingly marred jewel through which the light of the Lord Jesus, Himself "marred more than any man," glimmers in the beauty of holiness (Isaiah 52:14).  

    I am sure Mr. Lafitte has experienced many difficult moments in the years since his stroke.  The challenge will likely continue, and I know you join me even now in prayer for the Lord's grace and comfort.  The Rose that accompanies that thorn is nevertheless sublimely beautiful.  I see such glory ever time we sing "Amazing Grace" in Mr. Lafitte's presence as his smile radiates joy.  And I heard the same in his Thanksgiving greeting.  Strength.  In weakness.  Such grace characterizes much of our experience in this present lifetime as the Christ who was "crucified through weakness" shines forth in resurrection glory through the trusting children whose challenges reveal His triumph (II Corinthians 13:4).

"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body."
(II Corinthians 4:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
(Romans 8:6)

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