On The Potter’s Wheel

At all times in our life we need to be as soft clay on the Potter’s wheel, but it is especially important when we have opened our hearts to the Lord as we stand for our marriage and family. When we are hurt, it is easy to believe we know what God needs to do. I remember when I began my stand, I just wanted God to fix Michael. I could see all the problems he had and that he was creating in my life, and it seemed so clear to me what God needed to do.

The Lord, however, was focused on my heart. There was much work to be done in my life, with my attitudes and reactions. At first I was like hardened clay, set in my own ways and resistant to His reformation in my life. Eventually, though, the water of the Word softened my heart and I surrendered to the Potter’s hand.

Recently I was reminded again of how often people seek answers, but have decided ahead of time what they want to hear. Many times people contact us with questions regarding their marriage or their stand, but are not ready to hear the truth God wants spoken. In the past I spent a good deal of time trying to convince them of the truth, but I have realized through the years that time is better spent in prayer for the softening of their hearts rather than the changing of their minds.

Wounding can make us defensive and cause us to protect our hearts and minds. We often decide what is best for us, as I had done, and tend to reject counsel that does not agree with us. To be sure, when you are standing you will receive a good deal of counsel that is contrary to the Word of God. Only a close walk with the Lord and learning to clearly hear His voice will help you discern what is from Him and what is not. When He makes it clear that He is speaking, it is time to listen even if it hurts.

The Lord always desires the very best for us. We can trust Him even when people have failed us completely. When He places us on the Potter’s wheel, it is to create a beautiful vessel. It is not to destroy, but to enhance. So often we focus on what is wrong, but God is focused on enhancing what is right.

Only one time in my life have I been privileged to watch a skillful potter work with clay. God spoke so much to me that day as I watched the clay be mashed down, watered, built up, and worked again and again into shape. At first it just seemed like a lump as the water sat on the surface. As the potter worked it into the clay, though, that lump became an exquisite vessel.

It looked so easy so I wanted to try it.

It was then I realized that a skillful potter knows what to do and when to do it. I worked with the same clay and the same water and made a big mess. That day I knew that surrendering to the Potter’s hand is much better than taking matters into my own hands. So, even though it takes courage, we need to let go of our own desires and designs and surrender to what the Lord wants to work within us. He never fails to create a beautiful vessel! Love, Marilyn

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

The Family Tree

Many years ago at one of our annual international conventions, Michael revved up a chain saw and began cutting the limbs off a tree he had brought onstage. The point of his illustration was that the devil likes to chop as many branches off the Family Tree as possible and stack them up as fire wood.

It was a powerful illustration and those who witnessed it still talk about it to this day. There is something about seeing the visual destruction of a tree that speaks louder than any words.

In recent years I have enjoyed tracing our family tree back in time. It is a fascinating hobby and I find I have to force myself to stop looking things up and tend to other pressing needs. Seeing how one family connects to another and then another and another never gets old for me. Plus, in the process I have discovered many amazing things about our ancestors. Finding each couple and then tracing their family members gives me a feeling of connectivity to the past and to the future.

In a Family Tree, each married couple is connected by a solid line and each of their children flow off their combined union. When a couple divorces, though, the solid line becomes a dotted line. To me it is an amazing visual of two people who are still connected through the passage of time but at the same time are separated.

I have also discovered that the further back in ancestry, the harder it is to determine which children came from which marriage. On one site they will be listed under one marriage and under another one on a different site. It is clear that each one of those dotted lines represents a family that was torn apart and the confusion of connectivity continued through the years.

I guess if we had a huge amount of space in which to store data and the ability to continue tracing backward, we would all eventually end up with Adam and Eve, our common parents. It makes me think of God’s original plan for marriage and family and how messed up it has gotten through the years. Society plays a big part in what people accept in families and time has eroded God’s plan from the thoughts of many.

Years ago divorce was an unacceptable answer to marital problems. The down side was that many times couples stayed together, but didn’t get the help they needed to have a vibrant, life-filled marriage. So through the years divorce became a more accepted solution until today when it is almost the expected thing to do when there are problems in a marriage.

Too many think that marriage is supposed to fulfill them or make them happy and when those expectations are not met, they see no other solution than to leave the marriage. And another branch is chopped from the tree.

Our hearts long to help couples see that God’s plan for marriage is exactly what most express in their wedding vows–a covenant relationship that remains strong until death. In many ways, that is an uphill battle in this day and age. Divorce has become easy and acceptable. Remarriage has become the predictable norm following the breakup of marriage. Children are shuffled between parents and often end up with step-parents at least once, if not more times than that.

How do we teach each new generation what God desires when at an ever increasing rate people are pursuing what they desire? It is now considered harsh and legalistic to tell people that divorce and remarriage are sin. I can’t count how many times we have been told that God wants people to be happy. That has always seemed strange to me coming from people who just told us how miserable marriage had made them.

Where does it stop? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say, No More? It begins with those who are willing to pay the price and to stand against modern thinking and easy grace. Drawing a line and holding it is not easy and many will work to push you off that stand. It will often make you feel you are swimming upstream as large groups pass you going in the opposite direction.

Yet here, on the face of the earth, there is a growing army of people who will not give in to social pressure and who will not just roll over and let the enemy chop off another limb from their Family Tree. You are the Hebrews 11 people, those who through the generations have stood on the Word of God and walked in faith. We salute you, brave warriors, and honor the choice you have made. Our prayers are with you for courage and strength to go the distance! Love, Marilyn

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:3