Monday, April 22, 2013

The Tag on My Bra

I love going to the second hand clothing stores, especially Frenchy's. I love being able to buy brand name label clothes for a fraction of their original cost and knowing that I most likely won't run into someone wearing the same outfit. Sometimes I begin my shopping trip with a rough idea of what I'm looking for and its always a victory when I find it. But when I can find an item with the original store tags intact and I know the item has never been worn before... well now, that's a find!

That's what happened to me on my last Frenchy's run. I never buy lingerie at a second hand store. I guess its just knowing that something that intimate was previously worn bothers me, so I usually never even go to those bins. But on my last trip, as I walked past the lingerie bin, I saw a bra laying on the top of the pile, with the store tags still attached. You girls know how expensive bras can be; their prices border on the ridiculous. So here was a brand new bra, tags still attached and better my size. I tried it on and it fit perfectly so I added it to my treasures I had found that day.

As soon as I got home I removed all the tags from my Frenchy's finds and put everything in the washing machine. When Sunday came around I wore my new bra for the first time. Girls, you know what its like to have a brand new bra, you just feel all 'put together'. But all during the service I had something sharp poking me in my back. It was so irritating! It was uncomfortable and unpleasant to say the least. I knew it was from my new bra but I couldn't take care of it right away. I had to do the song service and sit through the message, all the time being acutely aware of this sharp object digging into my skin. 

When I got home the first thing I did was inspect my purchase. There, under the tag at the back, was a small plastic wire from a tag. I had missed this one. Frenchy's always puts those little plastic wire tags on their items even if it still has the original store tags on it. I knew this but it had slipped my mind. That tiny, less than one inch long, tag had given me such an annoying pain. Something so small, but capable of making my morning miserable. Once I found the culprit and removed it I felt fine and was comfortable once again.

The Apostle Paul spoke of having a 'thorn in the flesh' in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8. Three times he asked God to remove it from him. Some people have said his thorn was a physical ailment. Others thought it was a cantankerous person who came against his ministry. But whatever it was God didn't see fit to take it away from Paul and give him relief from it. His thorn in the flesh wasn't something he could do anything about. He needed God to fix it and God didn't. Paul said in verse 7 that he had the affliction to keep him humble. He knew that he had to learn to live with it, whatever it was. 

Sometimes God will allow us to have a 'thorn in the flesh' to bring us to Him.  Our afflictions, which are permitted by God, are often for the same reason Paul had: to keep us humble and trusting in Him. We cannot see how pervasive sin really is in us, and sometimes we're humbled by our afflictions and return to God and trust him. Sometimes God will put a pebble in our shoe to get us to stop going in the direction we are headed. 

When we were pastoring our first church I received a phone call from one of the ladies of the church my parents attended. She told me that my father was alive but he had passed out at a church pot luck dinner and struck his head. He was being taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. I quickly thanked her, told my husband what was happening and ran for my van. I lived an hour and a half from the hospital. I couldn't get there fast enough. My Dad, my strong Dad, was down. 

As soon as I passed the town limits I floored it! I can't tell you how fast I was going, only that the van was shaking as much as I was. As I passed familiar landmarks I knew I was making good time. I was concentrating on the road and there was nothing but clear highway for as far as the eye could see. When cars passed me going the other way, I felt a brief twinge of guilt that I was a Christian and I was breaking the law. But I quickly justified my actions thinking about my father laying in an emergency room. 

Then out of nowhere a small car appeared on the horizon. I thought 'no problem I can pass that when I come to it'. But when I did approach the car, I wasn't in a passing zone. I quickly dropped from hyper speed to snail's pace. A tiny, little old lady who could barely see above the steering wheel was driving the car. She had a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel and I knew then that God had slowed me down. God knew I was sinning and could have killed myself, or someone else, with my reckless driving so He placed this white knuckle granny in my way. 

Once I realized she was placed there by God, I never tried to pass her again. I sat in my van, crawling along behind 'granny' listening to God telling me that Dad was okay and that He was looking after him. I repented of my sin and I know God forgave me. This 'granny' was a thorn in my flesh. I didn't want her there. She was an irritant but God placed her there to protect me and get me to turn from my sin. 

What's your thorn in the flesh? Maybe God has placed that irritant in your life to bring you closer to Him. Instead of looking at it as nothing more than a bother, why not try looking at it as God trying to get your attention. Is there sin in your life you've not dealt with? If you confess it and allow God to remove it, you'll feel so much better. Is there a 'tag', 'thorn' you need to remove? 

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