Thorn In the Flesh (continued)
At a camp I attended, a big, tall fellow - one of those strong, athletic young college students - asked me one day, "Miss Paxson, where do you get all your energy?" I said, "From topside; I get i from up there. I believe I'm just as strong and have just as much strength as you have, young man." I I believe I did have. It's from "top side." When we are weak, then we are strong. In whose strength? The strength that is supernatural. I would much rather go in this supernatural strength than in my own physical strength. It is a wonderful thing to live in the supernatural strength of a supernatural God. That was the message that came to Paul through a thorn in the flesh. We want the strength, but we do not want the difficult experiences that cause us to need and use that strength. Yet that is the only way it is going to come to some of us.
God could have kept Daniel out of the lion's den; instead, He kept him in the lions' den (Daniel 6). That was a far more wonderful thing. Once or twice in my life, I have been at a zoo and have seen lions. I once saw a lion open his mouth and roar. It made me glad to know there were strong iron bars between me and that powerful creature! When thinking of this one day, this realization came to me: "What an experience Daniel had that I missed!" What a wonderful thing to be inside a lions' den and to have all hose great beasts, which could have crushed his bones to pieces, surrounding him but unable to open their mouths. What a wonderful God we have! Think of standing inside that lions' den and seeing Him actually keep those beasts from opening their mouths! Daniel could not have had that experience except in the lions' den. We want that sense of nearness to God; we want to realize what His power is - but outside the lions' den. And that is why we do not get that sense of nearness to God.
God could have kept the Hebrew young men out of the fiery furnace, but instead He permitted them to be in it - and it was heated seven times hotter than usual! (Daniel 3:8-30). But what did it do? It burned off their fetters! Do we want ours to go? "Oh, yes!" we cry. "But not inside a fiery furnace. Lord, let them somehow be burned off outside! Let it be a little bonfire maybe that will burn them off but not a fiery furnace, Lord, we do not want it that much!"
Then a divine being "like the Son of God" (perhaps the preincarnate Christ) walked with the three men in the furnace (v. 25). Even the heathen king knew a fourth person was walking around in there. Then to think that they came out without even the smell of fire on them (vv. 26, 27). Not a hair of their heads was singed. Oh, what a God is that!
Do we not want to know Him? Do we not want to enter into an experience with a God such as that? That experience of the Hebrew young men took place inside the fiery furnace.. We cannot get it outside a fiery furnace. That is why we do not have more wonderful experiences with our God. That is why we do not know Him better. We want to just sit in an easy chair in our room and prepare a lesson for a Bible class or some church meeting. We want everything to be comfortable, and we want to get an intellectual grasp of Bible precepts. Then we go out and give it forth as merely intellectual truth. The people who hear us know we got it by the easy-chair method, and they know we have received easy-chair power as well.
(continued with # 4)