Clay Pots

Do tough times always follow moments of insight or inspiration?

Last week, in Stuff Happens, I shared about how God saw me through a scary time after hand surgery. How, in spite of all that happened, surrounded by love and care, there was a glow to it. When it was all over I felt like my faith had grown.

Just when life was getting “back to normal” (I truthfully am not sure what that is) my hand started getting worse, instead of better. That means the surgery may have stirred up an inflammatory response that can go crazy. Already my thumb has a contracture, is getting harder to flex and hurts like the dickens. Enough whining. You get the picture.

Moreover, the infection I’d been taking antibiotics for before the surgery came back. After a few days on another round of antibiotics, although I initially starting feeling good, the infection grew substantially worse, instead of better — here it goes again – which means the bacteria is now resistant to that antibiotic. I’m allergic to the best antibiotics used for that purpose, and the choice is narrowing quickly. I started a new antibiotic on Friday night, was improving dramatically, but this afternoon felt like I was going backward.

On top of that, one of my children, who has had some tough stuff going on in the family, had even worse things poured on. In spite of all our prayers, everything is getting worse, instead of better.

What’s going on here?

Probably a lot of things I’ll only understand when I get to heaven.  It could be the darkness before the dawn.

One thing I know is I’m finding out if what I believe about trusting God is real, inside, where it counts . . .

And outside, where others see it and are influenced by it — where the “ouch” comes in. Even on my finest day my life isn’t enough to illuminate others! As my husband likes to say, “We’re just cracked pots.”

Quito Pots © Jack H Thompson

 It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.

That last line surely fits me!

Today we sang one of my favorites during the Spanish service, Puedo Confiar, which means, “I can trust.” It has a great line, “Puedo descansar,” meaning “I can rest.” It goes deeper, more like, “I can lean back and relax.”

Have you ever been in one of those team-building exercises where, blindfolded, you have to trust your teammate to lead you safely through obstacles? The high point comes when you are pushed backward, off your feet. You hope your teammate catches you (or at least breaks your fall if you’re bigger than they are).

We can fall back into arms that are big enough and loving enough and reliable enough to catch us, no matter what our feelings say, even when we can’t see or touch anything that assures us it is safe.

We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

The refrain of Puedo Confiar says I can trust God, even if the sun refuses to shine. As I sang, I closed my eyes and let myself emotionally sink back into His arms. (If you’ve been around the block a while, right now you might be humming, “Leaning on the everlasting arms.”)

We’re in a world full of hard stuff. If our feelings and ability to trust are focused on our circumstances we’ll be puppets on a string, jerked around by what we can’t control and don’t like. By the things that don’t fit into our plan.

Instead, I choose to close my eyes and lean into arms that have caught me every time I’ve fallen, even when I didn’t know who it was.

 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

(Quotes are snatches of 2 Corinthians 4:6-16, from The Message. You can download the YouVersion app to your phone or tablet, or got to on your computer, and read the whole thing, in lots of languages!)

Let’s chat:  What do you do when things pile up? When it seems like nothing is working right ?

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