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My Two Cents

by Rev Chuck Behrens


August, 2013

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If you've ever given a child a helium balloon, you know you had better tie it to something or you're going to have a heartbroken kid pretty soon. That crazy balloon will just float away and slowly disappear into the sky, and all the while here's this crying child pointing at the sky and expecting you somehow to get up there and retrieve it.

Now, when you go from a helium balloon to a hot air balloon-the kind that carries people-you don't want that balloon to just go drifting off somewhere. That's why they put those sandbags on hot air balloons. I think they call it ballast. It's to hold them down; to help control them and to keep them from drifting off. Balloons need ballast; so do people.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, we realize that Paul has been telling us just before this about some very inflating times he has had with God. And then he says, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." Actually that word thorn means a sharpened stake, and it's probably a better translation to say "for his flesh" than in it. So, he's saying, "God gave me, but then it was also a messenger from Satan, a stake for the flesh."

Now, that thorn-that stake-it applies not only to Paul's situation, but whatever that frustrating factor is in your life right now, that thing that is limiting you, that's holding you down, maybe even tormenting you. You say, "Well, why?" Paul wondered, "Why is this in my life when God is using me so much?" Well, in the original, the phrase that opens and closes this verse is repeated...the exact same phrase. He says, "So that I may not be exalted over much, I have this thorn in the flesh." Then again he says, "So that I may not be exalted over much." In other words, if it weren't for this stake, I'd go drifting off on my own ambitions, in my own strength, in my own pride. It's like divine sandbags holding him from drifting off.

See when God is working in your life and through your life, you need ballast to keep your feet on the ground. I guess we could call them the Lord's levelers. They aren't much fun; Paul's wasn't. But we really need them.

It's a pattern in Scripture: Elijah, at probably the greatest moment of his life in being used by God-Mount Carmel, where he defeated 400 false prophets. Right after that, he's on the queen's most wanted list, the queen’s forces are pursuing him, and he's very depressed. See when a thorn comes at a time like that, you say, "Oh, man, something's wrong!" No, it may very well be that everything's okay. The Lord has just allowed some sandbags to come into your life.

Maybe you're a little inflated by what God has been doing, and God doesn't want you to be flying off on your own. First Peter says that "God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time." So, that thorn, that stake, that sandbag is a constant reminder of how much you need your Lord.

Like Paul, you can learn to thank the Lord for the ballast that He gives you with those sandbags. Sure, they're heavy, but they're helpful and yes, manageable.

See you in Church
Rev. Chuck