Saturday, January 28, 2012

Broken Clay

I recently read an article that triggered a memory of a lesson I used with my 6th graders one year. The kids were having a very difficult time using their words kindly, so I had them take a fresh piece of paper, crinkle it into a ball as tight as it would go, and then open it up and try to smooth out all the wrinkles and make it clean again. They couldn’t. And what I told them is that their words are like that to others. Every time they say something unkind to someone, they cause a wrinkle…and as hard as we may try to iron out the page again, there is still a mark that is left. Well, this article I read earlier this week brought that back to mind but in a different perspective and in the form of clay pots. Allow me to share…

For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~2 Corinthians 4:6-7

I am a clay pot in my Maker’s hands. I started out with value and beauty, untainted by the world. But as time passed, life experiences slowly chipped away at me, leaving scuffs and small scratches. If those small scratches weren’t enough, I then experienced things that caused severe blows and broke pieces off. It left me aching for what once was…the little girl of my childhood who was carefree and pranced around the house in my bathing suit (I don’t know why!), royal robe (bathroom towel) and paper crown (laden with jewels), declaring to all my royalty. But now, broken, bruised and chipped by life, I had been left wondering where to go. Wondering how to pick up the pieces…

It was at the cross, where my Maker, carefully examined each tattered piece, familiar with each circumstance that caused it…and where He began to slowly restore this clay pot.

But as He restored, there were parts that were so crushed they left tiny holes. But Jesus, with His hands bleeding from my sharp edges, and His blood covering me, recreated this pot and left His blood stained fingerprints all over His new creation. And He lovingly put me back together…even left some of the holes that couldn’t be patched and with persistence He reminded me that it is in those holes where His beauty is shining through in the depth of my brokenness. His light can shine in the brightest in them. It is in my brokenness that His glory shines through, showing the world that nothing is too great for Him to overcome.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3

These imperfections caused by life’s difficulties are a thing of glory – if I let them reflect His light. They have caused me to fall at the foot of His cross, to empty myself out before Him and to allow Him to reconstruct who I am so that I may be used by and for Him.

And while I was trying to piece together my own pot, there were pieces that just wouldn’t fit like they used to and I desperately wanted to take them apart, sand them down and try to fit them in again. I realized that sometimes God does that with us. He will allow us to go through the same lesson twice, sometimes even more, so that we can be sanded down…even to the point of causing a little hole in our pot, just so His glory can shine through.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

And even though I am imperfect, I am a new creation in Him. And I can trade in my bathing suit, robe and paper crown for “…a crown of beauty…a garment of praise…” (Isaiah 60:3)…and ultimately for a “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10) as I spend eternity with my Maker, the King of Kings, the Great I AM.

...and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. ~1 Peter 5:4

(to see the article that sparked this... go here.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baal Perazim

"When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up in full force to search for him..."

1 Chronicles 14:8

David was anointed by God for a be king over His people so that God's people would know Him. But with that anointing, came opposition from the enemy. In this case, the Philistines. And it wasn't just one or two coming against David...but the full force. All. And what does he do? He goes out to meet them...

"...but David heard about it and went out to meet them."

1 Chronicles 14:8

I'm not so sure I'd have that courage, even if God told me to. One person against a full force?! No thank you!! But David is a better person than I am. Instead of fear or choosing to cower in a corner, he inquires of God. Now that's a smart man! I have something to learn from him!

" David inquired of God: 'Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?' The Lord answered him, 'Go, I will hand them over to you.'"

1 Chronicles 14:10

But it gets even better...

"So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim and there he defeated them."

1 Chronicles 14:11

Sweet! God said David would be victorious and he was. But that's not what has my mind in a state of percolation. Instead, I'm focused on Baal Perazim. Do you know what it means? Good. Neither did I. So I looked it up...and it means "the Lord who breaks out".

Hmmmm...."the Lord who breaks out". Now the switch in my brain has been turned on. What are areas in my life where God needs to break out, where I need to relinquish control, where I need to stop looking at the circumstances and simply trust Him? Or, what are areas that He's already brought break through but I'm still not choosing to fully trust Him? Where have I let the enemy attack me again? Or...what are the things that God is wanting to break through in right now, but I'm too busy over analyzing it or I am trying to tell Him "No, I'm not ready"... See my state of percolation...all these questions...and no clear answers. Yet.

But moving on...(I really could camp there all day)...Look what happened to David after that victory...

"Once more the Philistines raided the valley; so David inquired of God again..."

1 Chronicles 14:13-14

Do you see what I see? God had already defeated the Philistines for David, already granted victory. And what do the Philistines do? Come back for more...glutton for punishment if you ask me! And yet that's exactly what our enemy does. he tries to defeat us and if he doesn't win, he tries again and again and again. His goal is to crush us. But if you look closely at what David did, you'll find the key to ultimate victory.

David inquired of God...again. He didn't wallow, whine, complain or pitch a fit like I'm prone to do. He instead went to God to inquire of His next move. And God didn't disappoint. He clearly stated what David was to do to gain the final victory (1 Chronicles 14:14-17).

What a lesson for me to have to grasp! There are things that I know God has called me to, and the enemy has attacked and God has brought victory....He has broken out. And yet, when the enemy attacks again, instead of turning back to God, I desire to throw my hands up and wave the white flag. But if God is the one who breaks out victory, who is the Baal Perazim, I need to stand steadfast in trusting Him in that valley no matter how many times the enemy tries to defeat me. I must inquire of God and let His power win the victory for me!