I never thought a Christmas tree nearly falling could ever teach me so much about life: You spend a long time perfecting a tree with ornaments. You make it LOOK absolutely beautiful. It shines with flashy lights and is covered … Continue reading
So this is often a daily fact of life: trying to fix it all in a world that was never made to be fixed. All too often we try to perfect our lives and strive for a harmony and perfection that frankly just doesn’t exist. This world is broken. We broke it. When Eve gave into temptation and sinned, the world was never the same again. So when we get upset when things don’t go our way, don’t let it deter or depress you to the point that it makes you become bitter or hardened. Take trials as part of life….as God’s way of shaping and molding us. We are His jars of clay. The fire in your life that you may currently be fighting may instead be refining you like silver or gold is refined…it is making you who you were made to be. Consider this:
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give 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
Think of yourself as that jar of clay- it’s put in a kiln once initially shaped. I remember well the elementary and middle school days of struggling to make some “masterpiece” out of clay and then having to wait a little while until it was ready to be taken home and shown to friends and family…to be cherished and shown to the world. In the kiln, my makeshift piece of who knows what underwent a series of fire and heating. Once complete, I remember always getting so excited about it, no matter the appearance. I would take it home with joy and a feeling of accomplishment at my work. The fire had made the clay strong and solid like a rock, as opposed to the lumpy and flimsy heap of clay it had been before. I think this is how God uses trials to shape us also. Everything that my clay went through was WORTH the wait because now it was not shaky. It was firm. Isn’t this what we, as God’s clay, don’t see? We go through the trial and tribulations and feel like we are waiting and waiting…we can’t seem to get past that stressful part because we don’t know the outcome. But God, as the Creator, does know. He knows the joy and wondrous piece of art that we will amount to after going through the fire of the world’s headaches- just like I did when I offered my clay art up to the fire of the kiln..because I knew that through that stage, the clay would come out as something BETTER in the end. That’s what God sees. Just because we can’t see or know the hidden good that will come out of something does not mean it will not occur.
But here’s the sad part. Sometimes the clay doesn’t come out in one piece. I remember the solemn faces of the poor few kids whose art came out of the kiln in shambles. When faced with the intensity of the fire, the clay exploded. What this represents is the two options you have when faced with a trial. You can either trust in God and let Him make you stronger and more firm in Him- surviving on faith despite the hardships…or you can break. You can let it destroy you from the inside out. Just like that broken clay. And even if you aren’t going through a hard time right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t still prepare for one. They are inevitable and yes ARE going to happen no matter how much you try to keep patching and fixing in this broken world. But there is still hope. See, before we put the clay in the kiln, the way to keep it from breaking in there was to hard press it so it was smooth and without air bubbles. There were these little holes that could be visibly seen. The less little holes you had, the less likely the clay was to explode. So what are some holes in your mind right now that have the potential to make you crack when put into the test of the fire? A relationship that needs mending and forgiving? A secret that could, if under stress, gnaw at you deeper unless confessed? A hidden jealousy in your heart? It could be anything. To reduce the risk of these holes breaking us in times of difficulty, go to God and let Him take these burdens from you. Confess to Him. It will give you freedom. He will remove your blemishes or “air bubbles”. You can then boldly face the trial soothed and smoothed by the work of The Creator’s loving hands…the same hands that know the beauty that will come after the rain. The rainbow after the storm. The jar after the kiln. A new, transformed YOU. A transformed YOU that could use a trying time or experience as a basis to change the world in God’s great name.
But sometimes in the fire we do crack and break- purposely. This is so that when we emerge from the kiln fractured and broken, He can be The One that, like my fellow classmates who were still set on salvaging their shattered art projects, glues us back together. See, just because we break in the hard times does not mean that He then decides to abandon us. He wants to actually SAVE you. Shattered and all. A lot of times He breaks us on purpose so that we can then look up to Him and realize that He is The Ultimate Healer- The One who can fix us. The ONLY One who can fix us. This world is broken, and so are we, no matter how many air bubbles that are smoothed out. But we are the children of a loving God who sent His one and only son Jesus to take our brokenness and make us whole again with His renewed hope and love bestowed in our hearts through The Holy Spirit.
Imagine it: you are sitting in class and start telling someone about what you believe. The person you are talking to isn’t so sure about the whole God thing. They listen but don’t truly listen because they just see the whole Christianity thing as confusing and not practical. It’s not that they are totally dismissing God’s existence, they just can’t understand why such bad things happen or happened in their life…that if God were really loving, those things wouldn’t have happened. It’s like this: The truth is that most people WANT to believe in a divine power but due to the perils of this world, just feel like they can’t. People often hear of this loving God and wonder- if God is so great, powerful, and loving, then why does He allow bad things and so much evil to occur in the world? The answer is so much more simple than you may think. It’s a little something I was reminded of in the movie “God’s Not Dead” (which if you haven’t seen it, its AMAZING!). And that is: FREE WILL If the world were perfect, we would all love God and not know the difference between good and evil. God does not want a bunch of carbon copies that love the same way…He wants to have a relationship with those that CHOOSE to love Him, not because they don’t know any different, but because they honestly SEEK Him. That’s free will- that amidst the evils and natural disasters and pain and suffering in this world, we would personally choose in our hearts to follow HIM. He is our refuge in this broken world. The light of Jesus is made so much brighter in this darkness. Have you ever thought about that? Light would not exist if darkness didn’t.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
See, what’s amazing is that God does not force us to love Him, yet He loves us all so much anyways- even when we don’t feel the same way. In fact, He loves us so much that He gave up His one and only son to be nailed to a cross. All for us. Just think about this for a minute. I know this statement is repeated a lot, even around nonbelievers. Imagine if you had a son of your own. And out of such ridiculous love, you gave that son up to be killed by the same people you are loving. We are too human to comprehend that. Our minds are too small and self absorbed, even when we try not to be, to really get this. Be honest, would you let your family be killed just so a bunch of people who don’t really know you could be saved? We’d like to say we understand it and would do the same…but that’s just not the truth. We are not God. We can’t figure out His love because it is too vast to wrap our minds around. So yeah, things in this world are messed up. Evil exists. But if it didn’t, you wouldn’t ever realize how big His love for you was because there would be no sins to forgive. You wouldn’t see Him carry you though the trials when you need Him most. You wouldn’t feel a need for Him. If life were perfect for you, you might begin to stray away and become independent and self sufficient. And sometimes that’s exactly what happens- the devil might let you live a perfectly great life only to snag you in the end because you felt you didn’t need God’s help. That’s another thing I learned from the movie “God’s Not Dead” (once again, if you haven’t seen it, you should!). If you are still struggling, have you ever considered that when the world wears you down, that God is just showing how He can revive and make you strong regardless? Sometimes when you hit rock bottom in a world filled with evil, you find that God is the rock at the bottom holding you up.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9
One thing many don’t realize is that when you put your trust in God, these bad things…these heart aches…lies…natural disasters…and diseases…are made less dark. Why? Because He gives you the strength to get through them. This doesn’t mean you won’t crumble from time to time, but it does mean that God is there in your soul whispering hope and peace amidst the trials. A hope and a peace that can’t really be explained…that everything is going to be ok because all of this pain has a purpose- it’s all part of His great plan. And His plan is an infinity times better than what mine would be without Him. Honestly, have you ever thought about what life would be like if you- just a weak human lost on earth- were leading your life alone? I am one of 7 billion. If I didn’t have God, I’d just be another random life floating along to nothingness. Never making an impact. Just existing to exist. Existing to please myself…which kinda stinks because then I would never really find life in life. I would be coerced like cattle to conform to whatever trend hit me. If society told me that the best kind of life was one focused on money and looks, well then I would strive for that. Why? Because that’s all I’d know that there was to the world. What is sad is that many of this world do live like this. Maybe you do too. In fact, we all have at some point. There’s always a point in everyone’s day, including mine, when you want to focus on pleasing the world, and not as much God. Whether it be fantasizing about how an outfit will up your status, or having a fit of self pity for not being part of a social group or event that would make us look better, it is so easy to fall prey to what the world wants us to think and feel. It weighs us down to look at everything with a blurred perspective- as if our value is limited to what we see with our eyes. But when you follow Jesus, everything changes. There is clarity. He takes your existence on this dark planet and turns you into something greater than yourself- He turns you into a LIGHT. There are three types of people in this world- those who blend into the dark and can’t find the switch, those who know of the switch, but can’t understand how it would change anything so refuse to touch it, and those who recognize the power of the switch and turn it on bright for all to see. The switch is Jesus. When you CHOOSE to welcome Jesus in your heart out of pure FREE WILL, He multiplies your influence. He has the power to take one human being out of 7 billion (that’s you) and fuel you so much that it causes a flare up all around you of other switches turning on, including those that used to never know the switch existed. Because of you and the light that Jesus puts inside. So yeah, the world is a mess. It’s quite broken and dark. Just don’t forget to flip on the switch.