Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Potter’s Hand

Finally, it was time to learn the throwing wheel (potter’s wheel) in class.  Let me just say up front – it’s not as easy as it looks.

 

As the professor showed us a demonstration, he made an interesting comment.  “The hands are strong, but it requires a gentle touch. Let your body guide the hands, in what they‘re doing.”  He went on to say “That one’s arms rest on the knees and the body is the one that leans into the clay.”

 

Image result for Potter's Hand

 

God is mentioned as the potter in Scripture. (Isaiah  64:8) He has all-surpassing power, yet when he molds me, His touch is gentle.

 

My life can turn at a dizzying pace like the throwing wheel.  I don’t even know which end is up, half the time.  There are times when I feel like the Potter is crushing me yet never once does He take me down to my original state.

 

What feels like crushing pressure is His body moving toward me to grow me.  There has to be some pressure to change the clay. It’s my faith and trust that is being pulled and stretched.

 

There are times when I made a bad decision, and I become wobbly and off center.  The Potter then pushes down ever so slightly to get me centered again.  Never so much as to become flat and unworkable or in a sense of losing salvation, but enough for me to get back on track, in order to be molded.

 

I noticed over the past year there were times if He pressed any more I felt would be flattened. I’ve said, “I can’t take anymore.”  However, the pressure continued.  His hands are always in contact with the clay.  Every so often, He uses His Spirit (water) to soften me up a little, because I’m too dry to work with. Then suddenly I find myself being pulled up straight, sensing the growth that was occurring.  A vessel was emerging, a beautiful vessel.

 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

   2 Corinthians  4:7-10 (NIV 84)

 

Silent Hugs

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hugger.  I love to give hugs. If you know me well and see me coming if you don’t want a hug you might want to run, because you’ll get one.  It’s almost second nature to me.  I love to receive them too. It puts a smile on my face. Many times, the person giving them doesn’t know I needed it at that time.

 

It was one of those days in which I was sat and looked out over a pond at a local park. Birds bobbed on the water, and a fountain bubbled, gurgled, and struggled to rise out of the water.  It was a particular hard day; the tears began welled up.

 

“Daddy, just once I would love to feel your arm around me like a father does his child.”

 

Later when I described my day to a friend they said “Have you ever felt a warm breeze on your face? Or sat and listened to the birds chirping away or smelled your favorite flower? Have you enjoyed fellowship with others?  These may seem like small things, but God’s hugs are in the small things, not always the big wonders.”

 

That reminded me of another park visit where I walked the boardwalk, worship music played in my ear. I climbed the tower sat down on the recycled bench pulled a pen and notebook out and closed my eyes. What happened next came as a surprise. A breeze picked up, birds chirped and the words which flowed in my ear became clearer. The world was disappeared around me like the movies when a character is deep in thought everything around them move in slow motion and blurry.

 

If anyone had come to the top of the tower, I wouldn’t have known it.  There was peace, joy and the presence of God was felt without a doubt.  I’ve learned to relish these times.

 

In another blog, I wrote that sometimes solitude moments with God are about being still and letting Him love on me.  It’s being and listening and feeling using the senses to experience God’s love and His creative side, by being in His creation.

 

Lately though I have left the music behind and have taken my little word processor to the park to observe God’s creativity.   Through it, I’ve seen illustrations of how to express myself to Him. He allows me to experience things that are new, like a huge duck flying not more than three feet away whose wings just made the loudest most awesome “whoosh” with every flap. It was incredible almost like a rhythm of a drum. The breeze rusted the leaves and ducks quacked and bird chirped even the annoying seagulls squawked musically.  I heard God’s orchestra play just for me.

 

Have you ever scheduled time to just be still at the park or at the beach in the evening to watch a sunset? I would encourage you to just take in nature and allow God to wrap His arms around you.

 

 

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty God shines forth.”

Psalm 50:1-2

Waste to Recycle

I decided as my daughter was taking her photography class three days a week, instead of sitting in the library for three hours I would take Ceramics 1 – and learn how to work with clay. My true interest in taking the class, was to learn the potter’s wheel.

 

On the first day, the professor showed us around the studio and we came to this one room with a huge mixer.

 

“Don’t worry about it if you don’t like how a project turns out. You see these two bins?”  he pointed to two huge plastic trash cans.  “Throw it in here along with any clay that may be to dry.  The water turns it to a “slip” like substance.  Then we add powder clay to it and it becomes re-usable clay.”

 

What he didn’t say was how bad it would smell due to bacteria breaking it down which I learned about later.

 

Ceramic illustration

Knowing that I was starting the class, I chose to study what the Bible says about the potter. When I got home it hit me.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)

 

As I think about my how life has been working and changing and healing I thought about the “slip” in the classroom.  My life is the clay.  What I think is too big of a mess up or the flaws are just too damaging I can’t be used, it’s just not true. Sure, It’s been tough.  However, the great thing is God will take everything in the past, present and future, and mix it with His love, and heals me through the work of the Holy Spirit (the water) for my good and His glory and make me even more usable.

 

Cool huh?

 

It sure doesn’t feel good sometimes. In fact, it smells pretty bad as the Holy Spirit illuminates things, and not necessarily of my own doing.  But through the Word, prayer and even other people this lump of clay will be recycled and made to be used in beautiful ways I never thought imaginable.  That’s hope, and I will not be rejected by the love and creativity of the Potter.  He has a purpose for me and will use the flaws, mistakes, struggles and trials to accomplish it.

 

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your Hand”. 

Isaiah 64:8

 

“Change is mandatory for extraordinary results.”

 

I noticed this quote on an electronic information board. That day the words cut like a knife, not just because the words were truth, but the changes I have been going through have been less than easy.

 

In fact, I would relate it to a wrestling match, except I was getting body slammed by my past which has influenced my present.

 

I was angry. Angry at people and yes, even God. I questioned why would He wait so long to have me deal with these things? Because it didn’t just affect how I see myself, but how I view God and the way He sees me.

 

This particular wrestling match lasted a month. Tears, fatigue, and anger were constant companions.  I felt black and blue, emotionally and mentally.

 

What I’m beginning to realize is that through the brawling, even when the fear is overwhelming, that’s where hope is.

 

In the messiness and wrestling, with each blow I’m breaking through the cement of my heart so that I’m able to receive and accept God’s love, and healing.

 

These struggles are not only the gateway to healing but also to sanctification which is a fancy word for the process of purifying, to make me holy, to make me clean.

 

I guess another way to look at it is restoring of a home.  An old house has to go through some tremendous breakage, sledge hammering, pulling up and tearing down in order for the new to be put up.

 

Wrestling things out can be part of that process in our lives. God is the master renovator and He will take His time to do things right. He will contract the work through His Spirit and even through other people, if He sees fit.

 

The change is mandatory in order for me to move forward.  It’s hard. Oh, my is it hard, and terrifying at times. However, the results He gives will be extraordinary and for my beautification. That is something I am anticipating with excitement.

 

Oh, and don’t think this is a one – time deal.  He is wrestling and renovating along with us until we are called home.

 

 “I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6  (NASB)

 

 

 

 

I wasted time a few weeks ago waiting for my daughter to finish work. Walking a few shops down, I found a wall hanging with this statement, “Until God opens the next door praise Him in the hallway.”  My first reaction was, “Yes, Lord I am in the hallway, but there aren’t any doors to open.”

 

I smiled to myself with tears rolling down my cheeks.

 

I’ve stepped out temporarily from ministry, which started a strong tug of war. The two sides pull hard with the intent of winning. On one end of the rope, confidence.  I have made a good decision to rest.  One the other end is busyness and the need to be back in the race.  As I talked to a friend about this struggle, he mentioned a devotional by L.B Cowman Streams in the Desert which gives a wonderful illustration of the periods of rests in our lives.  This is the author’s take on the period called rest:

 

 “There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music.  In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests.  During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song… He (God)* brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent.  We grieve that our part is missing in the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson.”  (Cowman pg.43,44)

 

Resting periods in my life (a masterpiece) is part of the grander piece. Sometimes these come as hardships, illness, struggles and trials or the everyday mundane.  These rests are times of silence and solitude in which He uses to grow me in my relationship with Him. God is the composer and conductor of my life and He creates rests for reasons.  Some reasons I see some I don’t, but all are for His glory and honor.

 

I love what Margaret Feinberg said in her book Fight Back with Joy, “Always be suspicious that God is up to something.” Even in the resting there is the hope that God is going to do something wonderful through it.

 

For me there are a couple of reasons for my rest: 1.  to grow closer to Him which in itself brings about rest  2.  To understand better who I am in Him, and how He sees me.  There is probably more to it, but that is what I’m observing now.  How cool is that?

 

Yes, I’m in a hallway right now that has no doors. I sit and wait in expectation when not only a door appears but opens and I walk through.  Praise God.

 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:10 (The Message)

 

Hope 2018

It’s been a long time since I have visited Solitude with the Father. Deep down I have longed to be here, but God has had different ideas. Which brings me to the word for my year; Hope.

 

In today’s world the word hope has strayed from its original meaning.  It’s usually associate with a “maybe” connotation.

 

The true meaning of hope is “expectation, expect with confidence.” As I have been studying this word, I found a hard saying by Paul in his letter to the Romans.

 

“…but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character and proven character, hope;” (Romans 5:3-4 NASB)

 

Here it comes.

 

“and hope does not disappoint…”

 

The first time I saw this I froze, tears welled up and a little anger welled up with the tears.  If hope (anticipation and expectation) doesn’t disappoint, then where was the transformation I prayed for last year?  Where is the totally changed person I expected?

 

The only transformation that came was a deep depression, where I would do anything to go to a far away place and be alone.

 

I was praying and in the Word daily, yet nothing changed except the dusk turned to darkness without even a flicker of one star. It was terrifying.  I have fought bouts of depression before, but nothing like this.

 

The last part of verse five says

 

“…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

How could this be because of God’s love? The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. “Christine, hope is expectation without your expectations to be fulfilled. Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open — not set and stubborn. Hope doesn’t disappoint because transformation springs from the love of God. In trials, hope is the expectation of how God is going to refine you.”

 

What I realized, God is going to transform, and grow me in any way He sees fit.  The depression was allowed, why? To show me, now is the time.  The time to take care of deep seated issues, fears, anxieties. I was going to need help with it.

 

It’s been a process.  And it isn’t over yet.  But one thing I do know, because I belong to God as His beloved child, I have hope that healing will come. Transformation will come. Experiencing God in ways I never thought possible will come. Experiencing stillness and knowing He is God will come.  I also know that it may not be in ways I think, but they will come.

 

It’s exciting and scary at the same time. With my eyes, ears and heart open to Him I wait in expectation with exuberant anticipation of what He will do. I have seen glimpses of Him through the dark. In fact, there are little holes He has punctured to let streams of light in.  He will continue to work through the trials to grow me.

 

That is the best kind of hope.

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So My ways higher than your ways. And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55: 8-9

If you know anything about football (American) you know that there are four quarters played.  But right between the second and third quarters is what is called half time.  The players go into the locker room, discuss the good and bad of the first half, then strategically plan how to go into the second half.

 

It’s June, and we are soon to enter the second half of the year 2017.  It’s hard to believe.  There are still 24 hours in the day and yet the older I get the quicker the time.

 

The other morning I sat on the back porch with a cup of coffee in my hand being still before the Lord.  I was running our Sunday lesson through my head.  Can you guess the title?  Half-Time: Moving from Success to Significance.  I chuckled.   Halfway through the year and we’re talking about the second half of our lives being more focused on significance.

 

I thought of my word for the year, transformation, and wondered was I making any strides?  A lot has happened in the past six months;  however, was change being made?

 

Then a question from Brannon Manning’s book The Furious Longing of God, came to mind:

 

“How often do you monitor your spiritual growth?  Several times a day?  Once a month?  Every thirty days? Twice a year?”*

 

It’s good for me to sit and reflect on where I’ve been and where I feel like the Lord is leading, but I get in the habit of going through the day checking every action, every word, etc.  I monitor my spiritual walk and just about everything I do.

 

The funny thing is it’s not my job.  It’s His and His only through the work of His Spirit.   I’m not saying that it isn’t good to take inventory once in a while.  However, it is not for me to carry around the monitor of change and growth with me every minute of every day.

 

There are three things that happen when I take control of the monitor.

 

First, me being a doer, I tend to set my standards high – way too high. When I don’t meet those standards, I get frustrated, depressed and feel like a failure because I’m not growing.

 

Furthermore, monitoring of self also starts a slippery slope of comparison.  I can look at others and see “giants” of faith and say I must be doing something wrong. My standards aren’t high enough.  I turn spiritual disciplines into legalistic performance. My goals are attempted in my own strength.

 

Lastly, as I take the role of monitor, I am more focused on the “change” then I am on living life and allowing God to work.

 

When I give God the role as monitor, He will grow what He wants to, when He wants to, and how He wants to.  I think that’s why over the past year as I embraced the study, “Read for Life –Reading the Bible Chronologically” in my church’s women’s ministry. The growth God worked through this study proved to be amazing.  I was allowing the Holy Spirit to teach what He wanted me to learn just by reading the Word.  Not that studies from well known teachers — like Beth Moore or Pricilla Shirer — aren’t great, but many times the studies can be all about what I should be doing and I don’t allow God to grow the concepts in me.

 

I will continue to take these studies, but I have to be willing to allow God to grow character traits, or spiritual fruit, in me.

 

To give God the control of my growth, He has shown me things that need healing, changing and encouragement that I never knew I needed.  There is also relief and peace to know that I am not in charge.

 

Are you monitoring your spiritual growth?  “How often do you monitor your spiritual growth?  Several times a day?  Once a month?  Every thirty days? Twice a year?”*

 

I would like to challenge you to allow God to monitor your growth for a month and during those weeks be still, listen for His voice and obey.  I think you may be surprised at what you experience through His work and strength.  And when you look in the mirror months from now you may notice Christ in you a little more.

 

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

 

 

 

 

The Gospel Project

Journey through the storyline of Scripture.

marthaparish

The pages of my life

The Harried Hamptons

Sharing my story

The Great Adventure

A Journal of Life and Faith in Southeast Asia

Hearts Set Free Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

Eggs In Asia

follow us as we follow Him

%d bloggers like this: