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

Who Is On the Throne?

Recently I have been reminded how much self is at the root of divorce. When one spouse’s self determines it is not getting what it wants, needs, and deserves, that self determines to leave the marriage and seek fulfillment elsewhere.

SELF fulfillment              SELF preservation

SELF determination         SELF actualization

When the other spouse’s self determines it doesn’t deserve to be treated that way, it seeks its own way as well.

SELF fulfillment                   SELF preservation

SELF determination              SELF actualization

Two people working hard to take care of themselves miss the bigger picture. Self is such a tiny focus, yet all other things diminish in importance when self is on the throne. Contention, division, and separation increase exponentially as self battles to have its own way.

Self first entered into marriage in the Garden of Eden after that first couple sinned and experienced separation from God. …and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:7) Before sinning they were covered with the glory of God, but now self took over. It is the same today. When self is on the throne, there is no room for the Lord. There is no need for the miracle power of God or holding any hope that things could change. Self is powerful, but it knows its limitations and believes no further than what it can achieve.

Amazingly, though, if only one of those people is willing to trust God and allow Him to sit on the throne in his or her life, powerful things begin to happen. First of all, He begins to heal the broken heart and reestablish worth in the soul. Not a worth brought about by ego, but a genuine worth based on the shedding of His blood and the price He paid because of His unending love.

That one person who commands self to bow down to the Lordship of Jesus Christ begins to experience the fullness of His life within. His forgiveness flows gently into the heart and soul and enables that one person to forgive and ask forgiveness. His unconditional love overcomes rejection, hurt, and the desire to get even. Slowly, but surely, His nature grows within and is reflected out from that one person who acknowledges that He is Lord of all.

Standing is not about getting what we want. It is about getting our”selves” out of the way and allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives. He transforms us from within and His will becomes life to us. His wisdom guides decisions. He is a shield and protection when the enemy’s darts are flying. His love pours out to our wounded children and brings them life and hope as well.

It only takes one. Are you willing to be that one? Love, Marilyn

“In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress; Every hand of misery will come against him.”  Job 20:22

Be It Done Unto Me According to Your Will

This time of year I always think about Mary. For us the Christmas story is filled with wonder and joy, but I often think of how Mary arrived at the fulfillment of God’s promise.

She was a young girl, engaged to be married, and, no doubt, preparing as all brides do for her wedding day. Then one day an angel appeared to her. Now that in itself would shake up most of us. The angel greeted her with words of honor and prophecy, “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.” The Message says that Mary “was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.” I guess.

As the angel explained God’s plan to her, she must have been shaken even more. What an awesome call God had placed on her life! Not only was she going to carry the Messiah, but she was going to do it as an unwed mother. Under Jewish law, she could be stoned for sexual immorality. Would Joseph understand? How could she tell him that an angel had visited her and that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Who was going to buy that?

And yet in the midst of what had to be a flood of questions and anxious thoughts, Mary willingly accepted God’s plan for her life and replied, “Be it done unto me according to your will.”

And the worst happened. Joseph thought she had been sexually involved with someone else and decided to quietly divorce her to prevent a scandal. The man she loved and had planned to spend her life with rejected her and thought the worst of her.

No doubt others who knew her well, her family and her friends, must have thought the same about her. Shame and disgrace followed her everywhere. And yet she served the Lord and carried the child He had given her. She must have prayed a good deal and begun each day trusting that God would carry her through because all the time she knew that it was being done unto her according to His will.

An angel visited Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about Mary and her baby. What a joy it must have been for her to have the man she loved believe her and trust her again! They were married and Mary must have thought the worst was over. Now everything would settle into a normal routine and before she knew it, her little baby would be born.

But that was not to be. We all know the story of how Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to register just before the baby was to be born. Long days of travel on hot dusty roads must have been very hard on a pregnant woman. Car travel is hard enough during pregnancy. Can you imagine riding a donkey? Many times during that trip she must have said again and again, “Be it done unto me according to your will.”

And then, just when she thought they had arrived in town and she would be able to rest in a nice, warm bed for the night, there was no room for them in the inn. Now in labor, she must have wondered what God had planned. Was she going to deliver her baby in the street? The manger, although probably the last place she wanted to give birth, had to have seemed like a welcome place compared to the alternative.

And there in that manger, amidst the animals and all that accompanies them, she gave birth to the Messiah, the Savior. How she must have wondered what God’s plan was to have His Son born in such a strange place. By then, though, I think Mary must have been understanding better and better that when she surrendered her life into God’s hands, He had a plan that He would work out, even if it didn’t make sense to her.

I think that’s why I relate to Mary so well. She set such good example for us all. We need to surrender our lives in the same way she did We each need to say, “Be it done unto me according to your will.” And then we need to stop fighting God at every twist and turn when we do not understand. Circumstances may look absolutely helpless and painful. Those around us may not understand. We may walk in shame and the contempt of others. And yet, through it all, God has a plan. When it makes no sense, He is still at work.

This Christmas may Mary’s example be an encouragement to you. She walked in faith and trust through the worst of circumstances because she had chosen to obey God. She didn’t know how the story ended. She only knew that God had made a promise to her and that He is faithful. For her, that was enough.

I pray you have a wonderful Christmas, filled with love, joy, and peace and that the New Year brings you into an even deeper walk with the Lord. Love, Marilyn

“And [the shepherds] came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered in her heart.”  Luke 2:16-19