Questioning where you are with God? Me too sometimes.. An answer of peace…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” 21 Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? 22 If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure 23 and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Romans 9:20-23 (MSG)
13 Like clay in the hands of a potter, to be molded according to his pleasure, So are men in the hands of their Creator, to be assigned by him their function. Sirach 33:13 (NAB) (1)
In 1964, after a stay in Pamplona during which he preached to many people, he said how ashamed he felt at the demonstrations of affection he received. “They carried me around like a statue in a procession!” He added, “Later on I heard that there had been many conversions, lapsed Catholics going to confession … and I remembered the clay our Lord used to open the eyes of the blind man in the Gospel.” (2)
Yesterday, in a class I was teaching on Evangelism, there was a great discussion on the issue of our partnership with the Holy Spirit in ministry. The question led to thikning on my part, and during breakfast this morning I came across the above quote about Jesus using the clay (mud) to open the eyes of a blind man, and St Josemaria’s likening himself to that clay.
It is a theme in scripture, this molding and designing our use, as you see in Romans. It appears in Jeremiah as well, and in other places. It gives us a model of ministry, one which answers many of my questions about why I go through what I go thorugh in ministry. Not the answer I want, by any means! But one that leaves me… at peace.
I don’t like the answer at first, because it means I can’t set the boundaries, I can’t determine my own path, or what I think is the right way and strategy to serve God. It’s not something I can turn to a mentor, or the new term “life-coach” to find out. They are on differnt journeys, they have a different calling. Prayer is good, and I often seek others to pray for me and those I encounter. Prayers for guidance, prayers that God’s desire be revealed, prayers for strength to endure what God’s desire for me is, not leaning on my own strength, but securely found in His care. Following His advice/guidelines/commands, because He is God and I am not god, I am just one of His children.
That’s tough, because I like to think of myself as a semi-rational, somewhat intelligent person. I love exploring God’s word, delving deep into the languages to see His love for my peopel revealed. But because I know a verb tense, because I have access to some of the greatest linguistic tools known, that doesn’t make me an authority over scripture. It doesn’t give me the right to say Thus didn’t say the Lord, or thus did say the Lord. I can point to what He says.
The same goes for what I am called to do in ministry, where God wants me. I can dream of other places, of places where the trauma is less, or the work is more “visibly” effective. A place where I am more personally able to relax and be at peace, or where I am not tempted to be someone else. But here is where I have been placed, this ministry (at least for the moment) is where God has placed me to serve. Do I have to understand why? Do I have to find great accolades from my peers or my people? Or can I just be satisfied with knowing God has molded me for this moment, this day, this serving, and that this moment will mold me for tomorrow and next year? That can happen only if my trust is in God, that I reognize not only His wisdom, but His love for me.
If I had a dream church, nestled in the mountains of New Hampshire, overlooking Lake Osippee, in a town of 1000, with 2500 people in church, with all my friends from the church I’ve pastored and been part of, (all of them healthy and financially stable, with solid marriages and awesome kids) there is no guarantee I would feel at peace more there than where i am today.
For peace doesn’t come to clay when it sets the rules, where it determines its use. Peace comes from knowing Who it is who created and formed and places us where we are. Peace is foudn walking with God, knowing His love. Whether we are in the inner city… or suburbia, or a jungle or desert. For we are His beloeved work, His beloved masterpieces.
Peace is found in Him, and that peace… oh that peace!
(1) For my friends from protestant backgrouns, the book identified as Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) is one of the books in the historic canon.of scripture, and it shows up in Bibles prior to the 19th century, including the King James Version. To simplify things if you are unfamiliar with it and the issues about the Canon, consider it like you would a writings of an Augustine, or a Luther, or other orthodox preacher.
(2) Urbano, Pilar (2011-05-10). The Man of Villa Tevere (Kindle Locations 5180-5184). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on November 11, 2013, in Devotions and tagged God, HolySpirit, Knowing God's presence, Lord, New Hampshire, peace, potter and the clay, Questioning God, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.