Tumbling in the Sand
“but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
This passage in 2 Corinthians is a little strange … third heavens? unspeakable visions? thorns in the flesh? messengers of Satan to torment? … yup, strange.
I’ve heard lots of conjecture about what in the world Paul is talking about here. What kind of visions he might have seen or his “friend” might have seen. What exactly his “thorn in the flesh” was. How we can make sense of these odd things…
But it is this line, right here, that I think is the point. It is this line that I take comfort from. It is this line that I cling to: “My grace is sufficient for you …”
There are lots of times in my life that I wish I knew more, could do more, had the right answer or the magic solution. I know that when I was discerning the call to come to Naugatuck to serve two congregations, I certainly thought myself inadequate to the task. I mean, what did I know? I’m just out of seminary! Honestly, I still feel that way most days. And to calm anxiety about that, I do lots of reading, lots of studying, lots of listening, and a whole lot of praying … but in the end, God’s grace really is sufficient. God’s grace is what brought these two congregations along for a collective 236 years. God’s grace is what has brought me to this place. God’s grace is what sustains us daily. God’s grace will be what moves us forward.
The summer before I started seminary, I was mailed the course listing for the fall and the paperwork to register for courses. I remember looking at the course titles with mystified terror. I had no background in theology at all! In fact, I had avoided those classes in undergrad even while I had taken almost every other subject. I looked at the titles as if they were printed in a foreign language; which, indeed, they were. I remember thinking that I couldn’t do this. I remember wondering what in the world I had been thinking to consider uprooting Lee and I to move up the Philadelphia so that I could flunk out the first semester. I remember considering backing out of this lovely plan of mine. That night, though, I had a dream (yes, really, a dream) in which I saw a simple image: light glistening off of the water in a baptismal font; hands, one holding a candle and one open; the edges of robes and stoles; and I heard a voice: “All you need, I have given you.”
Now, I have a lot of trouble trusting or believing in dreams (I am really pretty skeptical … I’m working on that). But I find this one strangely compelling and find that I haven’t been able to forget it. So, I try to trust what it said, that God really did give me all I needed in my baptism, especially since that grace and love and community has brought me this far. And so, when I feel incredibly unqualified, incredibly insufficient, incredibly small and weak and broken, I trust that God has given me everything I need. And I pray that when you feel something like I sometimes do, you might also find strength in those baptismal waters and faith that God’s grace really is sufficient.