Thursday, January 23, 2014

My clay jar feels more like a tube of toothpaste

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.  (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)





My husband accuses me of toothpaste tube abuse. He pushes the toothpaste up gently from the bottom. I crumple and twist impatiently until the toothpaste comes bursting out in a glob on the counter.   In the midst of some recent circumstances out of my control,  I've been hard pressed, definitely perplexed, persecuted and struck down.  My clay jar is not feeling strong.  It feels more like a twisted, stomped on, cracked tube of toothpaste.  

I have taken my complaints to the Lord.  He said this:  Consider it pure joy... whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith  produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:2-4)

Ugh.   Why can't I be "mature" without trials?

As I was complaining praying to Him this morning and telling Him I felt like an abused tube of toothpaste, I felt Him say, "what is coming out when you are squeezed?"  I reflected, and then I told Him what has been bursting forth out of me lately:  Anger and self-pity, stemming from a victim-mentality.

And here is what He said (in a nutshell), "You can be powerful, or you can be a victim.  But you can't be both."  

Oh.

I think I'm re-learning something I already knew.  Call me slow to catch on, but God is using these various trials to refine my character, so that the next time I'm squeezed, hopefully what comes out of me looks more like Him and less like me.  That is why He tells us to count trials as joy.  If we choose to, we can actually gain Christ-likeness in the midst of them.   

The only thing I can control about these recent trials is my reaction to them.  Therefore, from now on, I refuse to be a victim.   I am resolved to be powerful, not pitiable.  I am resolved to be faith-filled, instead of "woe is me."  I am resolved to let this latest trial do it's perfect work.  Although outwardly my clay jar is being relentlessly squeezed, inwardly, through faith and perseverance, the kingdom of God is being built up inside of me.  Next time the enemy puts the "squeeze" on me, I have a feeling he will be surprised at what comes out.  Faith. Power. Perseverance. And that's the idea. 


Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

How has God worked a trial in your life for good?


Amy

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Amy,
I came across your blog a few weeks back and I am grateful for your diligent effort to pursue God's best! It is a great encouragement for me and my endeavors.
Wow...I have written pages and pages in my prayer journal of how God has used adversity to show me that "trials are not designed to hurt me, but the dross to remove." He also reminds me we are in clay vessels for a reason, so that He shines forth as the light in our clay lantern...He gets all the glory for his good works and not we the children, but the Father. There is no glory in being clay! But merciful God, who glorifies the unrighteous with his love should receive boastings from us and not the other way around. :)Eventually with enough refining we come forth as gold! We reflect his great light...we disappear into him and our identity is found only in him. After all it is our destiny to become the image of Christ..and his image came at great suffering. If he loves us we WILL suffer...bu not to punish, but rather so that we will be members of the same team...we go through the same experiences (training) and yet we are mortal flesh! He loves us enough to show us the way through..."be of good cheer, I have overcome the world"...So it is easy? Yes? Just follow him, he has already carved the way ahead of us...he is the way.
Most recently He shared this with me concerning trials or tests are He called them...
"Daughter, this was a test! Testing like the flick of a lighter before lighting the candle when the power fails in a storm, testing the waters before diving in the deep. It is meant as a checking of the temperature of sorts..seeing if you have an even temperament...one of the manifestations of the fruit from the Holy Spirit is temperance! A check point, testing all buttons to ensure they are pressing ready! I am making sure all systems are on go and there is no resistance on your part."
The Holy Spirit shared that he blesses us to check ourselves by teaching , showing us how he is checking us...a test run, a dress rehearsal, to prove all things are ready to go. Little exercises to ensure success in accomplishing his great and beautiful will in our lives! If we are to be his instruments...then those instruments must be fine tuned and ready for when the curtain opens and the crowd has gathered. It is always his performance and not ours.
Hope this is a blessing.
PalmTree

Amy Hawk said...

Hi, P.T.,
WOW! This is very much a blessing to me. I love the analogy about testing the flick of the lighter before He lights the candle. "Little exercises to ensure success in accomplishing His will." Very true! And that knowledge gives us the sense that there is indeed a higher purpose for every trial. Thank you so much for sharing your insights.
Many blessings to you,
Amy

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