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Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Abundant Lancaster County harvest
This harvest view is about 1 mile from our home and a frequent view as we walk in our neighborhood.  The fields, barns, trees, and blue sky make for a colorful country setting.
Large view

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"Grace To Overcome"

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The large field across from our home must surely be a farmer's delight. It's relatively flat but drains well. I periodically use photos here in this series of the view from our front porch.

Outcropping of rockBut in the field is a large pile of rocks about 20 feet wide by 100 feet long. I've wondered why the farmer placed the pile in the field to plow around rather than off to the side or in a corner where it would be less obstructive to farming. I've also wondered, given the heavy machinery farmers have, why it wouldn't be worth the time to move them out of the way once for all. The rocks all appear to be a size that a front loader could easily move.

Carrying out this chore would appear to increase productive land and the yield of the farmer's  harvest.  Finally I asked my neighbor who farmed for many years about this matter. He explained that underneath the pile there is a very large outcropping of imbedded rock buried deeply into the soil that could not be removed so the farmer just works around it year after year.

When I view this pile of rocks I have often considered the spiritual application. The farmer could get very discouraged about this. It could just eat at him, year after year, having to work around this obstacle. He might mutter under his breath, "Why in the world did the Lord allow that pile to be there anyway!"

Most of us have some "imbedded rock" in our lives, some way more than others. For some it's a physical disability. I consider our friend Andrea from our church in New England who is a paraplegic as a result of an auto accident when she was a baby. For others it's a family situation such as being born to an unwed mother and never knowing one's father. For some, although they are very unlikely to be reading this material, it's being born and living in a desperately impoverished land and facing horrific persecution.  The Christian believers in Sudan come to mind.

Now let me make it clear, God is certainly able to remove any form of imbedded rock in our lives and He often does. But in some situations we are called to work around it and even put it to use so that God may be glorified. There are matters that in God's power He could remove, but in His providence he does not. But he does provide needed grace to work around it or through it. Millions can testify to that grace. Let's look at one:

The apostle Paul received  tremendous assurance in the daily text from God after a time of labored prayer that seemed to go unanswered.  He was dealing with his "thorn in the flesh."  Much speculation has been made regarding the nature of this thorn, with a variety of interpretations offered.  However Paul simply does not give us the details, although it's likely his original readers would have known due to their personal association with Paul.

The thorn in the flesh was certainly an obstacle, whether physical or otherwise, that Paul deeply desired to be removed. I personally believe it was physical, perhaps an eye problem.

This word of assurance spoken directly from God to Paul has brought comfort to countless believers through the church age. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I specifically recall the day before my father had his open-heart surgery in 1997 he had read the Word and felt that this particular passage spoke directly to him.  We generally interpret "the thorn" as representative of "the trial."  I consider the lack of specific identity by Paul regarding the nature of this thorn to be a part of God's design.  For our trials truly take on many forms and God's grace is sufficient to help us endure the pain-filled particulars that are not within our own ability to change! 

Are you going through a trial today?  Is there a major rock outcropping in your life or an imbedded rock weighing you down?  Do you have a "thorn in the flesh?" God's grace is absolutely sufficient to sustain you and teach you through the trial.  Paul kept the faith and so can you.  In fact you will be stronger as a result of this trial and God will be glorified through your faithful response to His testing. As a result of God's direct word of assurance Paul responded, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, whether our trials are emotional, physical, spiritual, financial or relational we are absolutely dependent on You for everything that we have need of.   When we rely on our own intellect, past experience or natural giftings we miss the opportunity to see Your will perfected in our lives as we work matters out in our own limited strength and finite wisdom.  You work in the supernatural realm while we are confined to the natural unless Your power is manifested in our lives.  Help us not to resent or be embarrassed by our weaknesses, but invite Your Holy Spirit power to work through them, so that we can learn endurance and find strength. May You  be glorified in the process and in the testimony to follow.  Amen.

Sad Roxie recovering from trapLast night I took our dog Roxie for a long walk through the recently harvested fields when Brooksyne and Ester were at a meeting.  I was talking on the cell phone to my brother in California when suddenly Roxie who had been running ahead of me began a high pitched, pain-filled yelping. I sensed immediately the likely problem and dashed ahead in the dark to the source of the commotion. Sure enough she was caught in a fox trap. It was dark and she was wildly thrashing back and forth so I started to run back home for help and a flashlight. Removing a trapped live animal is not a one man operation!

About 1/2 way home I recalled I had my neighbor's phone number on my cell phone so I called. I returned to Roxie who had settled a bit and in just a few minutes I saw the very welcome headlights of Leon's big farm
equipment service truck coming out for the rescue.

In the process of restraining Roxie to remove the trap I got bitten and so did Leon to a lesser degree.  Roxie and I walked on home although Leon offered to take us and waited for Brooksyne to doctor us. My arm hurts this morning and I slept poorly last night but otherwise I'm OK. Roxie is limping slightly but also appears to be OK. I wonder if she learned anything through the painful experience?  I certainly learned some cautions since this is the first time we've encountered animal traps that were a danger to Roxie.

Ester on horse
Yesterday we shared about our fellowship time Sunday afternoon. Ester, our 18 year old, mounted her horse with a bit of trepidation but ended up enjoying her ride on Chico.  Some have inquired about what Ester is doing now that she's graduated from her high school but not yet in the work force or college setting.  Due to her special needs she is in an intermediate unit called "School to Work."  She's with about 13 other students and trying to sharpen her skills so that she can get a job and keep it.  Her skills are quite limiting so her choices are limiting as well. If she is hired for a job this year and keeps it 90 successive days she will graduate from this program.  Her health has been quite stable and we are thankful for that improvement from past school years.  She loves the Lord and cherishes her godly upbringing but she is also greatly influenced by her peers which has contributed to some poor choices recently.  We're so glad her teacher is a Christian and supportive of our values.  We do covet your prayers that God will help Ester through these impressionable years and she will choose to influence her friends for Christ rather than be influenced for ungodliness.  We have a whole new understanding of what it is like for parents who carry a heavy burden for their teens to stay on the straight and narrow.

Today's suggested music:
"Grace Alone" (Video) Along with the song is the story in photos of a love-filled family overcoming a great obstacle by God's grace.
"Grace Alone" (Video) Same song, different singers.  Brooksyne and Linda Reid introduced this song when it was first written many years ago to our New England congregation who sang it in earnest. It has always been special to me from that time to this day.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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