The leaves are just beginning to crunch underfoot on my memorized Metroparks' path just down the street and I'm not quite ready to give up the tantalizing aroma of the honeysuckle greeting me just outside the back door though these September skies bring all the feels.
Happy Fri-yay friends.
The frost isn't even on the pumpkin yet and the world's most infamous virus has already come to call.
It could have at least brought Dunkin'.
And as the Oh so familiar cough came back to haunt me I was reminded of my own physical weakness and it plum made me just, well, discouraged.
You know, that word we all just cherish so much...... weakness?
Just when I was hitting my Fall stride on my favorite paths, clocking a few miles at a new time that made me feel a bit pert, this comes along and reminds me that sometimes my lungs need a break.
When Covid first showed it's face and of course I was the first one in my family to contract it and thus share the wealth, it came with a stowaway penpal of mine.
This is not a space to even entertain vaxed vs un-vaxed because this was waaaay back before the vaccine was even around.
Remember that time?
And it came and my smell headed for the hills with my taste while fear scoped-out the best seat in the house.
Everyone was bouncing back and I was just stuck in the mud of weakness for a while.
And I finally felt normal-ish and my eyes didn't burn and coffee tasted normal again.
But I couldn't sing.
I couldn't even ugly cry at family devotions while three and four-part harmonies filled the living room because I didn't have enough air to do so.
And nothing makes you want to sing your heart out like not being able to.
So when the first few chills and aches came I lay in my bed and sang every verse to every hymn and chorus that makes me smile because I knew it was going to be a little bit before I did so again.
I believe that this is my third go-round with this nasty thing and each time I have asked the Lord to spare me from it's presence.
"Lord," I tell him, "I have things to do FOR YOU!"
"I have people to care for and nurture. I have meals to fix, people to teach and encourage!"
My first go-round the Lord gave me Psalm 118:7- "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD."
I was scared, sitting in the sectioned-off hospital hallway with my head buried in my husband's arm when this verse came to me.
I did live, praise the Lord, and I sure did have at least three opportunities to share what the Lord taught me in that recovery time.
My second bout he gave me Proverbs 18:10- "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
I sure didn't feel very safe one very long, dark night in the middle of an at-home breathing treatment, but I did learn that the Lord is so many conquering things just in his name. And I learned that he likes to draw us close, bringing us up above our circumstances with a fortress-view if we allow him to.
This round I He has been bringing me back to 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9- "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. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
I cannot say that I am glorying in anything but not having to cook so many meals, but I am saying that never have I ever been without the Lord's words to comfort and guide me.
I have never been in deep waters that my Shepherd did not bring me through.
And I am encouraged, SO encouraged by the life of folks like Paul, who asked and still served after the answer was a loving, "No."
I don't believe that Paul asked three times because he was weary of asking or because he thought three was the perfect number.
I believe he stopped asking because he had an answer.
And the answer was Christ himself.
I know what you're thinking kids and no, you may not use "Jesus" as the answer to every quiz question you don't know.
The answer was that Jesus knew Paul's weakness ( wait for it- even DESIGNED IT to keep him humble and useful) and said it made him more powerful than he could even imagine.
Weak lungs have always been my specialty.
Big life moments like getting engaged all have coughing surrounding them.
I don't know what yours is.
But I know that if the Lord wants to use it, it can hold the power to strengthen everything else around it.
It can actually make you stronger for it being there.
How often I find myself once more telling the Lord that I cannot have weakness because I am needed and how often he has reminded me that in this spiritual, not physical world of His, He IS adding strength I cannot even see in the weakness I shake off so quickly.
To live- to truly live and show our children how to live- we die to self and all it's desires.
To be strong- to be truly strong where it matters for Christ- we sit back and glory in weakness so Christ can have the preeminence.
I would've liked to witness with my own eyes the peace that must have rested on Paul's face hearing for the first time that God's grace was sufficient for him.
In a recent Marco Polo chat with some of the absolute dearest Christian women I know, one casually, as she does so often with great truth bombs, sighed and said,
"We either trust God or we don't. It's that simple."
I've been challenging myself with this thought since that polo.
And I have even rephrased it, "We either believe that God's grace is sufficient or we don't."
Do we believe it's sufficient when the upstairs shower falls apart?
When the refrigerator goes "belly-up?"
Or when you have no clue how your kids will pay off last semester's school bill in time for this semester?
Do we believe that God's grace is sufficient like Webster's 1828 defines it:
1. Qualified; competent; possessing adequate talents or accomplishments; as a man sufficient for an office.
2. Fit; able; of competent power or ability.
Because if we do, then we have so very very much be thankful for.
Grace upon grace my friends.
And elderberry never hurt neither.