Monthly Message Feb 2019

A Reflection on II Corinthians 12:7-10

The first church I had the privilege of serving was not far from Heathrow Airport. One day, shortly after I had started there, I received a phone call from the editor of the Baptist Times asking me to attend a press conference there and report on it for the paper.  Billy Graham was returning home from Northern Ireland via London and was going to make a statement on his visit.  Deeply aware of the heavy responsibility of getting all my facts right, I arrived very early for the press conference, armed with a tape-recorder (yes this was nearly 50 years ago!), and determined to sit as near the front as possible.  On arrival I found the room completely empty and had a choice of any seat in the front row.  I sat there alone for a while and then heard someone come in, walk towards the front, come along my row and sit down next to me.  I turned, and this person offered me his right hand.  “Hello, I’m Billy Graham”, he said.

In all humility I am proud to have had the opportunity to meet this great man of God.  And yet I am mindful, too, of the words of Jeremiah 9:23,24: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord”.

Paul had “heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (II Cor 12:4).  But that had been fourteen years previously.  Now, however, he wouldn’t boast about that but rather about his weaknesses.  Now, his awareness of God’s all-sufficient grace is not dependent upon “inexpressible things”.  Now, he has the assurance from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 

Like many of you reading this, I can look back to great experiences of the Lord’s blessings in the past and I am mindful of the limitations that are beginning to show as the years progress. But how exciting that is!  The world looks at the latter years of one’s life as a period of weakness, restriction, disablement.  But the Christian knows that God’s compassions “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23) and that his “grace is sufficient for (us), for (his) power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).  Therefore, like Paul, let us delight in those weaknesses that give us the opportunity to experience the Lord’s strength.

Be blessed, and be a blessing,

Tony Mason