Monday, 11 March 2013

Faith and Weakness

John Stott was one of the great Christian leaders of the twentieth century.  On one occasion he was speaking at a university mission in Sydney, Australia.  On the last night of the mission he was thinking of pulling out of speaking since, as a result of an infection, he had virtually lost his voice.

Eventually, he was persuaded to speak nevertheless.  Waiting in the side room beforehand, he whispered a request that the words of the ‘thorn in the flesh’ verses from 2 Corinthians 12 be read to him.  The conversation between Jesus and Paul came alive.

Paul: ‘I beg you to take it away from me.’
Jesus: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Paul: ‘I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me … for when I am weak, then I am strong.’

John Stott records what happened: ‘When the time came for the address, all I can say is that I croaked the gospel through the microphone in a monotone.  I was utterly unable to modulate my voice or exert my personality in any way.  But all the while I was crying to the Lord to fulfil his promise to perfect his power through my weakness.’

He went back to Australia seven or eight times after that, and on every occasion somebody came up to him and said, ‘Do you remember that final service in the University Great Hall, when you had lost your voice?  I came to Christ that night.’

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