Friday, October 14, 2011

Grace Is Sufficient, Part 1

2Co 12:8-9 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  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.
We all know about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.  There are different theories about the exact nature of Paul’s tribulation.  But it’s pretty clear that God’s plan was to keep Paul focused on Him instead of thinking that Paul could credit himself for some of the things God was working in and through him.  I recently had an experience that brought this home to me.  Let me share it with you.
If you recall, I recently asked for some thoughts on how much of a difference photographs are in making my posts more interesting.  My own feeling is that, although not necessary all the time, the occasional illustration could be of benefit.  I had already discovered some pretty amazing photographers whose work included individual pictures that we’ve shared here because they were the seed thoughts for the posts they illustrate.  I’ve been allowed to use all of these free of charge.  Which is good, since we don’t have any extra income to cover paid illustrations.  But I had another idea.
After being blessed by a ton of great photography on Google+, I decided that it was worth taking a chance on getting a decent camera and learning how to do some of my own illustrations.  There are two extremes in digital photography.  On the top end are single lens reflex cameras, on the other end are the “point and shoot” cameras.  In between the two ends is a range of cameras known as “bridge” cameras.  These look like smaller versions of the single lens reflex cameras and are more flexible than most “point and shoot” units.  I decided on one of those,  Which is where my new spiritual odyssey began.
I ordered from one of the larger online retailers.  I ordered the camera, a memory card and a set of accessories.  The accessories shipped from a different location than the camera and memory card.  And arrived on Columbus Day, as promised.  The camera and memory card shipped together, by a different carrier, and were due to arrive the Saturday before Columbus Day.  But it didn’t.  And that carrier doesn’t deliver on holidays.  Nor, apparently, the following Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

As you might imagine, I was not “a happy camper”.  The wrong choice of shipping method and that carrier’s lack of delivery definitely had me on the phone with both the retailer and the carrier.  Multiple times.  And that’s where I failed.  I definitely embellished the importance of the package.  And I had the accountability thing down pat.  But were my words and thoughts “full of grace”?  Not on your life.  Gentleness was not a large part of my response this week. 

Last night, my package arrived, courtesy of a very nice young lady who lives one street over, at the same house number as mine.  Her hours in law enforcement kept her from bringing it over sooner.  She felt more comfortable doing that than sending it back to the carrier for redelivery.  So, we had a multiple error fiasco.  The choice of shipping method was wrong to get the package here on time and the carrier delivered to the wrong place.  But those weren’t the big issues in all this.

I certainly wasn’t seeing God’s grace as being sufficient in the situation.  Even though it always is.  Worse, I think of the parable of the debtor forgiven a huge debt by his ruler, then not forgiving someone who owed him a small amount.  As a follower of Jesus, saved by grace, I was forgiven much.  However, I was far less tolerant.  Fortunately, I can repent and I can apologize.  But wouldn’t it have been much nicer if I’d responded correctly in the first place?  How much of Christ did these people see from my conversation?  Nowhere near enough.  And I will remember that next time.

So, next time someone messes up, think of Paul’s “thorn”, think of the debtor, and think of me.  Will you be more gracious?  To yourself and to others?

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