According to Google, ideal means one of three things: 1. Satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. 2. Existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality. 3. A person or thing regarded as perfect; a standard of perfection or principal to be aimed at.
This is troubling. I think because I have a tendency to use the word ‘ideal’ rather flippantly. In ways that seem harmless at the surface. Like when I say, “ya, it’s not IDEAL that he can’t hear…” or “the situation isn’t my IDEAL, but….” So, what is the problem with that you ask? When I throw that word around, I am subconsciously hoping for basically MY idea of what is perfect. Rather than saying, what does God want? What does He have for me in this situation? How is He trying to do what is best for me, while bringing HIM glory—REGARDLESS of, that icky word thought—what I think is IDEAL? This word has all new meaning to me now.
This morning as I was making time to be with the Lord in a moment of quiet…I opened my devotional to what couldn’t have been more perfect for where I’m at lately. Without going into things in great detail, I have become greatly aware (yet again) of things in my life which I would consider a big fat thorn in my flesh. Things that I’m sure don’t even pale in comparison to Paul’s thorn he spoke of in 2 Corinthians. But things which make me go in one of two ways. Either away from God in frustration and anger that He would allow it to continue. Or running towards Him as fast as I can so that, in my weakness, He might show His strength. All of us have thorns. All of us have a choice to make. Towards Him, or away.
I mention this because when I start talking about ‘ideals’…my mind begins down a slippery slope of running away. I start to hope for things which seem like a pretty package on the outside. But on the inside, they’re nasty. They cause me to miss out on an intimate, fully dependent relationship with my Savior. They cause me to want to bring glory to myself/my own strength—rather than Him. Because I don’t know about you, but typically, my ideals are an easy way out of a hard situation. My ideals are an escape. A path which seems like it makes ‘more sense’. An idea which will only lead to a quick fix and not a GOD SIZED victory/display of His glory and goodness!!!
Typically, our thorns are not something we immediately would call IDEAL. The world we live in definitely tells us otherwise. I know that if I’m not careful my thorns make me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Or fight. Or be mad at God for not taking them away. BUT it is there that God gently whispers to me. “Keeley, in spite of these thorns…do you still trust me? Do you know I am good? Do you still love me? And most of all, do you know that because I entrusted these to you, it actually shows just how much I love you?”
Any of you who know me well, or even maybe just a little, know I am an eternal optimist. If there’s a silver lining hidden…I’m your girl. I’ll find it. So don’t get me wrong when I say to you, ideals suck! They will literally suck the life right out of you. Because they pull you farther away from God than you can even imagine. Find your thorns. It is there, God will bring you to life. Either by removing them, healing you fully and restoring those (or some of those) marks. Because He’s just that powerful and able!!! Or, He will do as He did for Paul. He will leave that thorn (or maybe more than one) lodged in your side, so that, you can remind this world that God’s goodness isn’t found in our ideals. It’s found when we let them go.
So today, let us choose to release out idealistic thought that life would be better without our thorns. Without our difficulties. I am so thankful because God has chosen to fully and amazingly heal SO many things in my life. Things I didn’t even know needed to be brought to the surface, let alone made new. But the more I get to know Him, the more I believe that there are some things in this life which I might not ever be fully healed from. And that’s okay. That isn’t what He promises to us in this world. Do I believe God could heal those lingering things if He chose to. Absolutely. Have I done the work to try and make that happen. You bet. Does it mean I have a right to be angry or disappointed. NO! In fact, like Paul, I am hearing God say:
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12, The Message
Thank you, Jesus. For healing the areas you know we need healed. And allowing difficulties to remain for our utmost good. My heart wants you…more than the healing!