This is an excerpt from the book :"The Life of Paul" by F.B Meyer
It is a great little book,highly recommended,poetic and encouraging.Thought I would share an excerpt that touched me personally..and this book is full of touching words.
This was written in regards to Paul's visit to the Third Paradise(2 Cor 12:2,4-5)(which the author here thinks was Paul because Paul reveals that by reasons of the visions and revelations granted him that there was danger of his being exalted overmuch.Whether it was Paul or not,the ultimate message here is still relevant and poignant.)
To Such,Bridal Moments come
Paradise would indeed be a poor place if words could describe it.The third heaven would not be worthy of its Maker if its glories did not transcend our furthest imaginings.He hath set eternity in our heart,a capacity for the infinite,a yearning after the divine.In moments of reverie,when stirred by certain notes in music,when under the spell of a sunset on a summer's eve,when we wake up to love,we know that words are but the token of thought,the signs and symbols of realities,and not the realities.Translate into words for me the sighings of the wind through the forest and the withdrawal of the sea down a pebbly beach and the string of sunlight playing on the hyacinth-strewn grass.You cannot!Then you know why the apostle described his experiences in Paradise as unspeakable.
But these hours are as fading as they are unspeakable.Why?Lest we should be exalted above measure and become proud.If the apostle feared this,much more should we!Lest we should come to trust in an experience as an aim or object of life instead of regarding it as God's will and testimony that He may withhold if we make more of it than we ought.We must live not in an experience but in Jesus,from whom,as from the sun,all lovely and helpful experiences emanate.Lest we should get out of touch with men and women around us,the majority of whom do not live on mountain tops but reside in valleys,where demons possess and worry the afflicted.
Through God's wise providence, such radiant hours do not linger,because our strength is not fed with them.We shall not get much working strength out of whipped cream,however pleasant it tastes;and if we rely on the raptures of Paradise for our sources of spiritual power,we shall come lamentable short of our true reinforcements.So God,in His mercy,gives them once or twice,now and again,and,at the time of sending them,accompanies them with a thorn that we may be reminded of our utter weakness and helplessness and be driven to avail ourselves of His grace,in which alone is our sufficiency.
Do not expect the vision of Paradise to linger;it would dazzle you and make life unnatural and unreal.Do not regret the passage of the blessed ,rapturous hours,light of step and fleet of pace.Do not think that you have fallen from grace when their flush and glow are over.Whether they come to you constantly or not,or even if they never visit you,you are still in Christ,still joined to the Lord,still accepted in the Beloved;and neither height of rapture,nor depth of depression shall ever separate you from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.Be content,then,to turn,as Jesus did,from the rapture of Paradise,presented on the Transfiguration Mount,to take the way of the cross through which you will become able to open Paradise to souls in despair ,like the dying thief.
The Discipline of Pain
Paul's "thorn" must have been VERY painful.In infinite wisdom,God permitted the messenger of Satan to buffet his servant,and all through that first missionary journey,Paul had to face a long succession of buffetings.There were perils of robbers,of waters,of mountain passes,and of violent crowds;but in addition to all,there was the lacerating thorn.
Paul could have suffered from weak eyes or some distressing form of opthamalia.We infer this from the eagerness of his Galatian converts to give him their eyes,from his dependence on an amanuensis,and from the clumsy letters with which he wrote the postscripts to his epistles(Gal 6:11)..And if this were the case,the pain would be greatly aggravated as he faced the keen blasts that swept the mountain plateau on which the Pisidian Antioch was situated.
Was it during this journey that Paul sought the Lord on three separate occasions for deliverance and received the assurance that though the thorn were left,more than sufficient grace would be given(2 Corinthians 12:9)?If so,like a peal of bells,at Antioch,Iconium,Derbe, and Lystra,he must have heard the music of those tender words:My grace is sufficient,sufficient,SUFFICIENT for you!Sufficient when friends forsake and foes pursue;sufficient to make you strong against a raging synagogue or a shower of stones;sufficient for excessive labors of body and conflicts of soul,sufficient to enable you to do as much work,and even more,than if the body were perfectly whole--for my strength is made perfect only amid the conditions of mortal weakness.
In estimating the greatness of a man's lifework,it is fair to take into consideration the difficulties under which the man has accomplished it.And how greatly does our appreciation of the apostle rise when we remember that he was incessantly in pain.Instead,however,of sitting down in despair and pleading physical infirmity as his excuse for doing nothing,he bravely claimed the grace that waited within and did greater work through God's enabling power than he could have done through his own had it been unhindered by his weakness.
Ah,afflicted ones,your disabilities were meant to unite with God's enablings,your weakness to mate his Power.Do not sit before that mistaken marriage,that uncongenial business,that unfortunate partnership,that physical weakness,that hesitancy of speech,that disfigurement of face,as though it must necessarily maim and conquer you.God's grace is at hand--sufficient--and at its best when human weakness is most profound.Appropriate it and learn that those who wait on God are stronger in their weakness than sons of men in their stoutest health and vigor.
*Romans 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 Just as it is written: “For your sake we are being put to death all day long, we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.” 37 To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers 39 nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*Hebrews 12:11 True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness. 12 Hence straighten up the hands that hang down and the enfeebled knees, 13 and keep making straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather that it may be healed.
*2 Corinthians 12:6 For if I ever do want to boast, I shall not be unreasonable, for I shall say the truth. But I abstain, in order that no one should put to my credit more than what he sees I am or he hears from me, 7 just because of the excess of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not feel overly exalted, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan, to keep slapping me, that I might not be overly exalted. 8 In this behalf I three times entreated the Lord that it might depart from me; 9 and yet he really said to me: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for [my] power is being made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast as respects my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in cases of need, in persecutions and difficulties, for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am powerful.