Sometimes it takes me a while to put two and two together…or three and three…or four and four. I know God is talking to me when He tells me something at least three times in different ways. Sometimes, He speaks to me through creation, through people, through His Word, through prayer, through pictures, through billboards, through music….through whatever – there’s really no limit. But, I just re-realized that I’m not always paying attention to what He’s telling me.
God spoke to me through a song this past week, and I just realized now how relevant and true the song is in my life right now. haha….it’s crazy! This song talks about how God is taking me to new places, new atmospheres, heavenly places. This all sounds abstract and vague; but in context, it makes sense.
The context – in a previous blog, I talked about how God gave me the verses James 1: 2-4, which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In my blog, I mentioned how I didn’t much appreciate this verse and how I didn’t receive it joyfully or even really willfully at first. I tried to fight against going through trials and temptations….and it didn’t work.
So, in the last few weeks, God has given me different verses that correlate with these verses. The latest verses He has given me have been 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, which say, “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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, what all does this have to do with heavenly places, taking me to new atmospheres, and having new ears? In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is talking about visions and revelations and the third Heaven! I have just recently learned about the third Heaven, and that there is a first Heaven, second Heaven, and a third Heaven perspective. The first Heaven is what I can see with my own eyes in this world (natural things – objects and people). The second Heaven is the spiritual realm of things that I don’t see (spiritual beings/things – spiritual warfare, demons, angels, Heavenly beings). The third Heaven is God’s Kingdom and how He sees things! Dang – to have that arial view! Can you imagine!?!
Right now, I see things through my own vision in the first Heaven – in my natural perspective. But, how I would LOVE to have Jesus’ eyes and see what He sees! Paul was taken to the third Heaven in 2 Corinthians 12, and He was “caught up into Paradise”, He “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (verses 3-4). Can you imagine the glory of that? Can you imagine the revelation and the glory of Jesus you would see or hear or experience?! Hot dang!
Do you know what Paul gained from this? He gained greater revelation! And, as a side dish, he was given a thorn in the flesh. A thorn in the flesh? What the heck? Why? Did he do something wrong? NO! Was God mad at him? NO! Was God pleased with Him? YES! Then, why did Paul have a thorn in the flesh!?! “….to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh…” (verse 7). Was it spiritual warfare? Yes….”a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being conceited…”
Hm. God allowed spiritual warfare (Satan’s attack) on Paul to go through and pierce Paul, not as a punishment, but as a chiseling tool to keep him from becoming prideful. Do you know what this means!? When we have our own ‘thorns in the flesh’, it’s not necessarily a punishment. It’s not necessarily a consequence of our actions. It’s not God saying He’s displeased with His loved Ones. It’s not God forgetting us or not loving us or leaving us. It’s Him being a good, loving parent. It’s Him forming us into His image more and more. And, it’s painful. It really is. Changing form is a painful transformation. But…..we’re getting closer to Jesus, we’re becoming more like Him, and we’re seeing, hearing, and experiencing more of His glory. And you know what glory is worth?!
“For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18