PARADISE – Paul was “caught up to the third heaven…into paradise…and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). We have seen this with Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Peter and others, where the presence of God and His glory are so real they communicate something that cannot be humanly told to anyone else. What is the purpose of this? I believe the greater our assignment by God, the more He will shape our lives by something personal about Himself, something unseen, and something out of this world. It will mark our lives and ministry with a touch of divine quality, power and effectiveness.
A THORN – Such gifting as Paul and others experienced could not be realized without a companion affliction that kept them from self-exaltation and pride. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given to me in the flesh” (12:7). I have observed that those most used by God are also those that have gone through the severest trials, some that seem to have no termination.
If God is preparing you for a work in His kingdom and to the church, ask Him to reveal His glory in some way that will draw you very close to Himself and also prepare you for the work He has planned. At the same time, expect that He will place on you a “thorn” that will keep you humble and constantly relying on His sufficient grace. Accepting the “thorn” will reveal more of His glory.