Tuesday, August 14, 2001
If you've ever given a child a helium balloon, you know you had better tie it to something--or soon you're going to have one balloon-less, heartbroken kid. That crazy balloon will just float away and slowly disappear, and all the while that crying child will be pointing at the sky and expecting you to somehow get up there and retrieve it. Now when you go from a helium balloon to a hot-air balloon--the kind that carry people--you don't want that balloon to just go drifting off somewhere. That's why they put those sandbags on hot air balloons--it called ballast. That extra weight holds a balloon down, it helps control the balloon, and, most important, it keeps it from drifting off. Balloons need ballast. So do people.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Sandbag Syndrome."
In the passage where we find our word for today from the Word of God, the great Apostle Paul tells about some times he has had with God that could have really inflated him. He says, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me" (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Now, in the original Greek language of the New Testament, that thorn is literally "a stake for the flesh." For Paul, that was apparently some physical problem that plagued him for years. For you, the stake, the thorn may be that frustrating factor in your life that is limiting you, tormenting you, holding you down. Why? In Paul's case, it was--as the original language says--"so that I may not be exalted over much." In other words, if it weren't for this stake, I'd go drifting off on my own ambition, in my own strength.
Because God loves you, He brings some Divine sandbags into your life. When God is working in your life and through your life, you need ballast to keep your feet on the ground. The Lord always has His levelers--trying circumstances, criticism, some failure, a medical problem, someone who loves you enough to tell you the hard truth, financial struggles. God's sandbags aren't much fun, but we really need them.
It's a pattern in Scripture when God is really using a person. Take Elijah, for example. He wins this awesome spiritual victory on Mt. Carmel, and then suddenly the queen wants his head, and he's being hunted and he's all depressed. Without sandbags, great men and women of God can start to think much of their greatness, and forget that it's all about a great God. The sandbags aren't to make them crash. They're to keep them from drifting into disaster.
Right now you may be feeling the weight of one of God's sandbags, and you're saying, "Something must be going wrong." Not necessarily. Everything may, in fact, be just fine. This burden is just some sandbags that your Lord has allowed to come into your life, so you won't get too inflated by what God has been doing. He doesn't want you flying off proudly on your own.
The thorn, the ballast, is meant to be for you what Paul said it became for him--a constant reminder of how much you need your Lord. Paul found peace with his thorn. His conclusion: "God said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'" God loved him--God loves you--too much to remove the weight you'd wish He'd remove.
I hope that you, like Paul, can actually learn to thank the Lord for the balance He gives you with His sandbags. They're heavy, but they'll keep you from drifting away from the Lord...who is the only reason you can fly.