As Nina tucked her youngest into bed, she dreaded what was to come. It had been like this for several months now. She had grown distant from her husband and it seemed like all they ever did way fight once the children were asleep. Her wedding vows came to mind as she quietly shut her son’s door. She leaned against the wall, unwanted tears streaming down her face. As she wiped the tears away, the longing for her husband to wipe those tears away was oh so real. Unsure where things had gotten so chaotic, she slowly walked to the living room where her husband sat. Her chest tightened. All she wanted was for things to get back to normal, though she was unsure what normal was anymore.
It seemed like her children would be with her forever, Eliza pondered, looking out of her back window. They were little no longer, and the choices they were making wounded her so deeply. The pages of her journal where she poured out her heart were blank today. Seemed like she had no words to say. Though her marriage was stable, it stung to admit her children were not living the lifestyle God desired of them.
Life felt so empty. The mundane things of life were taking a toll on Alexandra. This was not the life God wanted from her, she was sure of it. She felt there was no purpose in her step, no meaning to her days. She desired to experience that first love she once had when she gave her life to Jesus many years ago. What would she present her Maker if she were to meet Him today, she thought? The silence in response terrified her. Getting out her Bible and journal, she sat down at the kitchen table for some quiet time and soul searching. “Lord, open yourself to me,” she prayed. As she opened her Bible, her eyes fell on Jeremiah 18.
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The potter’s house-
The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house for a message. As Jeremiah watched the potter, the pot he was shaping from clay had become marred. Jeremiah stood watching stunned but the potter didn’t throw the clay away. Patiently and deliberately, the potter took the clay and as it spun around on the wheel, he reworked and reshaped it into another vessel, as he saw best fit. I envision myself standing alongside Jeremiah, fascinated with the patience and steadfastness the potter possessed. Amazed and taken aback that the potter continued to use the clay that should have just been thrown away, it was no good. Wasn’t it?
This has to be one of my favorite illustrations in the Bible. I am ever so grateful that I, the clay, am shaped by God. We all in a way are so broken by our sins, our choices, mistakes and guilt. So many times life is not what we planned or how we envisioned it would turn out. It seems like the clay just doesn’t take the shape God anticipated, and can no longer be used. Yet this story from the Bible gives me so much hope and encouragement! God doesn’t throw away what is broken, damaged, hurt or marred. He continues to work with the clay and reshapes it into another vessel. The potter had plenty of clay to use. He could have just thrown away the damaged clay, it would have been much easier to start fresh, yet he didn’t. If I am honest, this is where I feel convicted. At times, I too think that way. I am too quick to judge other people’s circumstances by the season of life they are going through, or that little crackle in their vessel that God is already in the process of reshaping. I think I am not alone in this conviction, am I? We often are quick to assume or judge another person’s actions or shortcomings based our level of spiritual maturity. Forgetting we too once were broken and needed to be reshaped. Forgetting to sit back and remember the mess God had so many times rescued us from. GRACE is a beautiful thing to offer in those situations.
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A work in progress-
I often am reminded that I am a never ending work of clay that God continues to shape, He being the Potter. As He perfects me to His liking, it hurts, it brakes me at times and yet His plan is perfect. As I write this, I see how God is particularly removing something out of my life. Lately, my favorite verses from the Bible have been Psalm 139: 23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I began praying for God to search and show me things that still needed removing from my life that were unpleasing to Him, that crack in my clay, and He showed me. He laid on my heart over and over that He wanted me to really filter what comes out of my mouth, not just sometimes – but always. That every word I say should have a purpose. So He began taking that out of my vessel and it is so hard. How does He do that? He began putting me into situations when I needed to make wise choices with my words that came out of my mouth, yet I continued to mess up. The disappointment of failure yet again hurt, but He persisted. He continued breaking me so I would truly comprehend that every word that comes out of my mouth has power. That those words can affect the lives of the people around me, my husband and children. I am still a work in process, but I get it. He is teaching me when to say something, when to bite my tongue and when to just move away from a conversation. Oh, it’s really hard to use His filter. Last week I was in a situation when I was treated unfairly, I sat and texted a message the length of the Nile River stating my innocent and the unfairness I was treated with. Then I turned on my God filter whether I should send the message. He questioned my motives, the effect it would have, and if it was truly necessary. The answer was no. Urghh. I was disappointed, it felt so right to get that out of my system. I ended up deleting the message. Once my heart began beating normal again, I felt victorious. That momentary satisfaction my words would have had would not have had a positive result on the situation.
What’s left is me healing from all it took to break me and get accustomed to the new vessel. Once this is behind me, He will yet again show me what I need to work on, He will clean another crack or broken off piece that needs reattaching in the perfecting of my vessel. Perfecting my clay to the one He desires me to represent.
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What are we holding onto, unwilling to let go of to God? How many of us feel convicted of sins that we hold on to so dearly, unsure how the admitting of them will alter our life. We at times hide them and tuck them so deep, hoping no one will get the courage to dig deep enough to find them. Yet God stands hoping we will reveal our deepest scars, blemishes, sins so He may clean them with the blood Jesus shed. Clean and forget as He molds us into something different, erased of the old imperfections. Where we will be reshaped by our past and our story used for His glory.
What is God trying to remove from your life? Perhaps it’s that one friend that you gossip excessively with or has a negative influence on you? How many times has he put a barrier between you and her, distancing the two of you because He knows that is for the best for your life? Yet you cling to her for dear life as you enjoy the satisfaction it brings? Let it go. The freedom that will bring is far more satisfactory than the latest news ever will be. (Been through this one, this was a hard lesson to learn.)
Or maybe letting go of the way you treat your husband? As He breaks you, it’s painful. You cry out to God unsure where things have gotten so chaotic in your marriage, and He is there telling you things are chaotic because your role as a wife has shifted and the shift has affected your marriage. For things to get back to the way God designed means you let go of the reins and let your husband take over. Oh, how we hang on at times, enjoying the role God designed for the husband. (Ouch..)
Or perhaps your Bible reading has gone from daily reading, to weekly, to once a month. As that marred vessel begins to come undone, God brings sermons into your life that reinforce the importance of reading Scripture. Or he brings friends into your life that share the impact of being in the Word daily makes. Yet you close yourself off to His nudging and go on with your life, reluctant to accept the changes your need to make to get back into your routine. That extra house of sleep in the morning or evening is too precious to give up. Yet He stands so eager to reshape you. (Oh forgive us, Lord.)
Or maybe, just maybe, there is anger and hurt you need to let go of, but cannot. The resentment has seeped deep into your vessel and the crack is spreading at a fierce pace and you haven’t realized how much it has taken over your life. Maybe it’s time to finally lay it all at the foot of the cross and have Him mend that brokenness and use that to bring a beautiful new beginning. Even if you were wrongfully treated, He knows what it’s like to be unjustly accused and abused. Remember, that anger will only affect you, not the offender. (Something I too had to work through.)
As I close, I hope this has been a blessing to someone reading this, whatever situation you are currently experiencing. You are a beautiful vessel that is being shaped to His liking and purpose. Let go of whatever it is He is trying to remove and reshape. He knows the vessel He has chosen for you. It’s unlike that of your neighbor’s, your sister’s, or the best friend that sits by you at church. Your vessel is yours alone. It’s not meant to resemble anyone else’s for it is uniquely yours. The bump in your spiritual journey will pass. What seems unfair now will look totally different once you’re are out of deep waters. You will sit back and see God’s hands was in that situation all along. Then there are times, you will not fully understanding why you went through something so unexplainable, never knowing the answer, but you still fully rely upon God, knows and that is enough. (Definitely have a few of those written in my journal.)
As Easter is upon us, I sit and think what it must have felt like for Jesus as His final week on earth before his death played out. How on Palm Sunday the crowds approved of His status, laying down their clothing as he rode into Jerusalem. Then towards the end of the week, the angrily screamed: “Crucify Him, set Barabbas free.” Isn’t that like us, oh so often? Jesus wants to give us freedom from whatever it is that is holding us back from our next spiritual growth. Yet, like the crowd, we cry in response “Give me my current ways, my pleasures, my desires, me, me, me.” Jesus waits to help mend and reshape that marred vessel you and I so tightly cling to. Leave whatever He wants to go at the foot of the Cross.
Happy Easter, dear friends. Christ has Risen!. He has Risen, indeed!
(P.S. I’d love to hear how God is reshaping you? Love hearing feedback from you. Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)