“There was given to me a thorn in the flesh … to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 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. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
That’s all good, but I have a hard time taking pleasure in my weaknesses or infirmities. I want them to be gone. Forget delighting in them. I want things to be just so. I can be stubborn and impulsive. I don’t like that, but the tendency seems always to be there. I want to do a good job at my work, I want to be fruitful for the Lord, I want to help build good relationships and friendships, but I find that I make so many mistakes enroute that I get discouraged with myself. I’ve prayed for God to remove the thorns, but so far, they’re still there. Sometimes it’s a big damn battle!
On the other side I also see how God is growing my faith. Sometimes it seems like too little, too long, too late, but the good part is I’m continually humbled learning that God is strong where I am weak and the little kid in me can’t always have it my way. I was reminded of the time when Jesus was walking on water and Peter came out to join him, but sinks when he sees the wind and waves. It’s kind of the same idea.
Nothing will happen—success, progress, any good thing—if I don’t first get out of the damn boat. It doesn’t do any good to sit on my ass and think about how nice it’d be if I could walk on water, only to then battle with why things are not going the way I want them to. So then, focus on the Lord and what I’m supposed to do—keep on walking, keep on trying, and trust that if I fall, I’ll be caught, to rise and try again, or to see that it’s not something that I should do now. Maybe later. Maybe never.
But if it is to try again, to get out of the damn boat again, and go through the process as many times as is needed to do what needs to be done. I need to change my thoughts. I can do that.
I believe part of growing in spiritual maturity is to learn to change your thoughts when necessary. Think of your thoughts like a room full of unsupervised two-year-olds. Can you imagine!? It could be fun for a while, but soon something or someone will go wrong or get hurt. God help me to bring every thought into captivity, into obedience. Left unattended, thoughts will take you into all kinds of stupid places.—And you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t fix stupid.”
I read a three-step process to take your thoughts captive: First, recognize your thoughts. You might go through life simply thinking things without question. Second, question whether your thoughts are true. For god’s sake just because you think it, doesn’t make it true. Third, do your thoughts line up with the Word? Simple, easy … but not always done!