In preparation for our trip to Africa, our team is meeting periodically for devotionals, team building, questions for us newbies, and any other information that needs covered. At our most recent meeting we discussed Jeremiah 18:1-6, the Potter and the clay, as we fashioned our own ball of clay into some form of a bowl.
This type of creative visual is usually not my thing because I lack the artistic skills required to produce what I see in my mind, but in the spirit of unity, I picked up my clay and began flattening and working it into the shape of a bowl. As I started watching everyone else work and shape their clay, it didn't take long for me to become jealous and nervous that theirs was looking better than mine. All the while, our team leader was reading from Jeremiah (18:3), So I went down to the potter's house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potters hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
I balled up and restarted mine about five times before a shape came to mind. The only real significance in my choice was the ease with which I thought I could make it. I flattened the ball for the sixth time, put a rounded point at one end, then two at the top with a point between them. A shallow heart shaped dish was taking form as the words he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do, rolled around in my mind. It became less and less noticeable whose was better than mine as I focused on what God was showing me.
God has reworked me several times over in the last twenty years, physically saving my heart with a pacemaker, and spiritually through salvation, but even more specifically in the last five to six years, as He's revealed pride, selfishness, and anger, among other of my less impressive attributes. Every time He has reworked some part of my heart though painful, embarrassing, sometimes crushing, situations or experiences until I finally give up and give it over to Him.
Maybe the the heart shaped bowl wasn't a coincidence. Maybe it's the perfect reminder to me of the constant work God has done, and continues to do in my life, and in all our lives. I know I'm not alone, as the whole team joked that they've been smacked down and worked over by God as He is constantly working us all into who He made us to be, as is pleasing to Him.
I liken my walk with God to a hike through the Himalayas. Sometimes it's an uphill climb that hurts and takes time, but then you reach that point where you can look out from yourself and see what God is trying to do, what Henisnshowing you. Suddenly, it all becomes worth it...the sweat, the tears, the pain...when you can see that what God has for you, or is doing in you, is way better than you could have ever done alone, or ever imagined for your life. When you can stop comparing who may be doing it better, or seem to have life more together than you, and give your heart over to exactly what He has for you.
I'm pretty sure this mission trip is going to be another one of these uphill climbs as God takes me completely out of my comfort zone and safety net, and away from everything I hold dear...save Him. I'm excited for what He will show me and do in me, and in our team, but also a little nervous because I know it can be uncomfortable and painful when God stretches and grows us, when He reworks us, as the potter does the clay.
May you find strength and comfort in knowing the potter,