I am the Clay

                                               

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand”… Jeremiah 18:4-6

This post is a reflection on the topic: “Stunning or Lopsided?” As I finished reading the book Let.It.Go. by Karen Ehman, I remember some of my reluctance to read certain chapters. I was less than thrilled with getting my toes stepped on and remember my pride getting in the way as I struggled with letting God do His job. I didn’t want to admit that I am a control freak. Progress, for me, has been allowing God to use Karen’s book as a stepping stone for discovering the pieces of myself that get in the way of molding my faith. I really feel that God’s timing is always perfect. Have you ever noticed that? I first started Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study as she discussed Unglued then continued to read Greater. Each book showing me something I needed to change within myself…challenging me to make imperfect progress and be a new creation in Christ.

The fact is that I now know that being a new creation in Christ is a daily process. It is a decision to start the day in prayer and reading scripture, it is shutting off the negative chatter in my brain, it is embracing the lessons God is teaching me– guard my words and my reactions. I cannot target one specific chapter for teaching me valuable truths…it was the entire book. I learned to let my husband lead in OUR dance. I learned to watch my actions and words with my husband and children. I learned to relinquish the “it’s my way or the highway” approach. I learned to stop the comparisons. I learned to watch what I am spewing!

It is so important to me to raise my two little girls properly. I am already watching God mold them into young ladies who hunger and thirst for Him. I am their model on how to be a godly woman/wife/mom. I do not want to misrepresent Christ and I know I have been the least Christ-like in my home. The valuable recognition that I can be content in ALL circumstances helps me to be joyful in my home…after all, God is in each circumstance with me. Any storm that comes my way are moments when I am refined. He is the Potter, I am the clay.

It is funny to me that God provides those moments so specifically when I am knee deep in a study like this. Some examples: a. My husband and I were not communicating well and our intimacy in all areas was severely lacking. We were fighting all the time for a couple weeks…I realized that my husband is to be taking the lead and I was standing on his feet. b. I had a dream about a man with whom I shared a deep friendship with when I was very young and impressionable. The relationship was sinful as I was single and searching but he was very married. The enemy not only reminds me of it but takes the opportunity to try to harm my marriage with it. My husband and I were in the fighting mode that I described in example a. After the dream, I fell into the trap of comparisons. I began to think of how the man made me feel compared to how I felt with my husband. The man loved to talk to me and listen to each of my thoughts. I felt important and cherished which is not where my marriage was in that moment…I shed light on the dark corner of my past a couple years ago with a trusted friend and so I told her of my feelings and she prayed over me. Then, I read the book and blogs about how “comparisons always deal an arresting deathblow to your contentment” and “comparisons kill any hope I have of dwelling calmly in contentment.” My contentment was already at risk and here I was with comparing. I found that I compare my life with the “perfection” of others’ lives. Someone else is always out of debt, having a baby, buying a new car, etc. I may not even want some of those things but I would start thinking “What do I have?” Now, I find myself happy in my WHATEVER because I am confident God gave me what I have for HIS purpose! He blessed me with MY husband not because I wanted him but because God knew that the man I have is the one I need. He designed our children. These beautiful people in my life help me to seek a closer walk with my Lord. I delight in those discoveries! c. My husband and children cleaned the house including vacuuming WITHOUT the filters in place…I did not redo it. I waited to vacuum for when it needed it! d. Exactly when reading about letting Junior make choices and not controlling every aspect of life, my daughter (age 6) decided she was going to pick out her own clothes for school. She did a great job…I was able to encourage her efforts.

Through each example, I realized that God is in every single moment of my life with me. He is molding me and shaping me. Honestly, looking back on my life, I wonder why it took me so long to get here. God has taken my brokeness and my lopsided ways and created something so beautiful. I can see how those difficult times and each mistake led me to be more dependent on God. Even if I pushed Him away, He never gave up on me. He kept working on me even when I didn’t feel it and/or understand it. My life is in His hands and I am exactly where I want to be. Content at last.

The Sound of Silence

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.  ~ Psalms 62:1

About five years ago, I attended my first Women’s Bible Study at my church. It was then that I learned and memorized Psalms 46:10a: Be Still and Know that I am God. Oh, how those words echoed in my soul. I began to recognize how I was ignoring God. I used to read the Bible at night but years slipped by and my priorities (after I got married and had our first baby) left the Bible in a stack of books under my bed just collecting dust. I lost focus and things fell apart. I had some struggles in my marriage, conflict with other members of my family, and I was busy keeping up with a toddler. Being still just didn’t seem like something I could manage. I kept thinking that physically speaking, I could be perfectly still…a statue, frozen. However, my mind was always going a mile a minute. I started to focus on God by memorizing the verse and surrounding myself with some items engraved with the verse. It quickly became my favorite scripture.

I don’t know when it became truly apart of me but I know that when my mind is swarming with worry or just plain crazy thoughts, I tell myself to be still. In one recent blog, I wrote about how I heard God invite me to spend time with him in the morning…6am to be exact. For a whole month, I was very disciplined, now I struggle with the exact time but I am starting my day with God no matter what. I don’t ever want to let my busy life distract me from what is most vital. But if I find myself struggling to wake up and get out of bed, I lay in the dark and repeat the verse over and over. I am able to experience stillness… quiet. It is then that I feel most content. My heart seems to swell and my mind becomes so clear. It is in that silent moment that I hear God speak truth and love over me. He gently convicts my heart of something new or whispers something I needed to remember. What an amazing God!

Religious VERSUS Relationship

I have heard the following statements in conversations: “I am not very religious so I can’t.” “You are religious.” “I thought of you as very religious.” “They won’t like me because I am not very religious.” What strikes me about these statements is this notion that Christianity is just simply a religion…a thing you do. When I think of being religious, I think of following a certain set of rules, routines, or rituals. I don’t believe I give too much weight to these things. Sure, if going to church every Sunday constitutes a routine then I guess I am guilty. If taking communion every first Sunday of the month is a ritual then convict me now. As far as rules go, I break them. For instance, when my children were born, my husband and I chose to have them dedicated to the Lord and annointed rather than baptized because I want them to be able to make that decision for themselves. Typically members of the United Methodist Church have baby baptisms. I was not raised in the denomination. In fact, I don’t say “I am Methodist.” I say “I am born again.” That is the simplest way I can describe my beliefs. I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross, was buried, and rose again. I am given new life because of Him so I am born again. In a nutshell, when I hear the word religious, my defenses go up. Consider the following definitions according to Merriam-Webster:

RELIGIOUS 1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes> 2: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances <joined a religious order> 3a: scrupulously and conscientiously faithful b: fervent, zealous

After reading those definitions, I don’t think that it would be a bad thing to be considered religious. I do have devotion to the Trinity and I hope to always be zealous for the Lord, fervently seeking. I certainly want to be found faithful. I can see that being religious is a healthy and vibrant part of a relationship with the Savior. I still can’t seem to shake the negative connotation. Religiousness has a bad rap. What comes to mind are the Biblical records of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees. They were considered religious, high in their position and power, and righteous. They did not accept Jesus and were intimidated. In their eyes, Jesus threatened the law they based their lives on. If only their eyes had been opened to the fact the Jesus was the One they were waiting for. He was the fulfillment of the law. This is where I can see that following a set of demands and rules can defeat the main purpose if not kept in proper perspective. It could be easy to go through the motions and not really have a true relationship with Christ. Being a Christian should be more than a religion. It is a way of living a new life. It is becoming a new creation. It is recognizing that God loved you so much that He sacrificed His only Son. It is knowing that God keeps His promises and has provided us with the Spirit to convict us, teach us, comfort us. He longs for conversation. He longs for us to love Him and then show that love to others. God created us to be relational creatures because we can choose to have a relationship with Him. He longs for a relationship with each one of us.