July 30, 2017

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Sufficient Grace

July 30, 2017

 

Welcome to my first blog post on this site.  Thank you for stopping by. I pray that something I say or share ministers to you and helps you to see God in a new way!! 

 

If you visit often you will notice a theme.  I talk a lot about grace!!!  It’s been a game changer for me and I want everyone I know to be radically changed by it just as I have.  So here we go, let’s get started!!! 

 

La-Shawn Nieves

 

Sufficient Grace

What is "Grace"?  Many of us, when asked this question would respond with the popular definition-- God’s unmerited favor.   This is a beautiful description of Grace.  God grants us His favor not based on anything we could ever do to earn it. He does this simply because of who He is. Wow, that’s a beautiful thing! 

 

Well, I would like to offer another definition, one I heard shared by Bishop Joseph Garlington or as I affectionately call him "Papa Joe"! Bishop Garlington said,  "Grace is the supernatural ability to do what you in your own strength cannot do."  This is the description I think relates best to what Paul was describing in 2nd Corinthians 12:8-10.  In this scripture, Paul says “three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (meaning the thorn in his flesh that was given, see vs. 8) But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for You, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ sake I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

 

Now that’s a mouthful!!! 

 

For as long as I can remember, I have felt that I was inadequate.   I was always good at things- just not good enough.  Let me give you an example.  When I was in college, I sang in the Gospel Choir.  We were preparing for a huge concert on campus.  I attended ALL the rehearsals and led a particular song during those rehearsals.  However, for reasons unknown to me, the director wouldn’t tell me if I was going to sing that part during the concert.  Fast forward to the night of the concert.  The director is introducing the song.  As I get ready to step down off the risers to move forward to sing the lead part, he calls another singer to lead the song.  To my recollection, this person hadn't attended any rehearsals, but admittedly was a very talented singer. 

 

I was devastated.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have the worst poker face in the world.  I’ve gotten better, but in that moment, anyone reading my my face could see I was terribly disappointed.  A big piece of my confidence was chipped away that night.  Along with the other pieces from my childhood, this small thing added to a pile that would continue to grow bigger. 

Slowly, I lost confidence in who I was and what God had called me to do.  In my mind, rejection seemed to follow me. I later realized that it wasn’t following me; I was drawing it to me.  My self-esteem was such that I needed validation on a constant basis. I craved it. I needed people to tell me I was special, beautiful, talented, called or simply to say that I was ENOUGH.  I became performance driven to the point where whatever I did had to be perfect. There was just no room for mistakes.  If I had to teach a song to a choir or worship team, I would stay up for hours making sure I didn’t miss one note or part because it just had to be perfect. I felt it wouldn’t be acceptable any other way. I felt I wouldn’t be acceptable.  Living with this type of self imposed pressure positioned me for a world of disappointment and hurt which did nothing but perpetuate my feelings of rejection. This misguided thinking became a never ending cycle.

 

That’s where GRACE comes in!  My spiritual Mom, Angel Carlos, said to me one day, "La-Shawn you really don’t understand God’s grace and you need to get a true revelation of His grace. It will transform your life." From that moment, I embarked on a journey to understand the grace of God and in my pursuit 2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 was the scripture God used over and over again to transform me.  The Apostle Paul states that because of the incredible visions and revelations he had received in order to keep him from becoming puffed up or conceited there was given to him a thorn in the flesh.  Many have tried to figure out what the thorn was, but it is not made clear in the scriptures.  Three times Paul went to God asking Him to remove this thorn and God’s response was “Nope, not gonna do it, My grace is sufficient for it’s in your weakness that My strength is perfected.”  

 

What does that mean?   For me, it meant that God wasn’t going to necessarily remove my “thorn”, (my need for acceptance) but that I would only find true acceptance in Him!  What's even better? I didn’t need to have it all together to be accepted by Him.  I didn’t need to be perfect and as a matter of fact, it was when I was weak that it would be where I’d find His strength perfected in me. 

 

I could bring my flaws, my neediness, my imperfections and ALL the ways in which I felt inadequate directly to my heavenly Father and He would make up the difference.  In God and God only could I be or would I be made whole. 

 

I have not arrived and I’m still very much on a journey toward understanding God's grace because it really is beyond fully knowing and understanding.

 

What do I know for sure? I know that His grace is truly sufficient. And because His grace is enough, I know that I am ENOUGH!!!  

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© 2017 by La-Shawn Nieves