“Look what I made for you, Mama.”
From the arts and crafts room at the YMCA summer camp, my daughter brought home beaded keychains, pressed flowers, handprint hearts, crayon drawings.
One summer she gave me two little clay pots, each barely big enough to hold a ring or a handful of paperclips on my desk. She had painted them bright green and purple, pink and gold, and fired them in the Y’s art room kiln.
The pots stood slightly lopsided, their sides thick and unevenly shaped by my daughter’s eight-year-old fingers. Despite their lumpy and imperfect appearance, I loved them because she made them.
“We are the clay, and you our potter; And we are the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
God crafts us carefully, lovingly molding each of us to fulfill his desired purpose. We are turned and shaped by his sure, gentle hands and then fired to give us strength and substance. Some emerge from the kiln hardened, cracked, or broken hearted. Some shatter in the process and are painstakingly glued together again. Every one of us is uniquely designed and brightly colored by our creator.
We may look imperfect, clumsy, or slightly off-kilter; but we are always treasured and perfectly loved because he made us.
Today I pray you remember whose hands formed you to fulfill a special purpose. I pray you always know that you are loved!
Are you feeling imperfect today? Do you know God loves you just as you are?
My hard shoes scraped on the stone stairs. Every morning I climbed the five grueling flights up to my corner tower office where the only window looked out over the parking lot. On the spiraling staircase, each step dipped in the middle, eroded by decades of other wandering soles.
For a year I worked as a proofreader for a government office, in a beautiful old stone building with winding staircases and wide, echoing halls. On my lunch hours I walked alone through dark and mysterious corridors, traveling under the building’s basement through tunnels that looped endlessly back upon themselves. For a year of lunch hours, I wandered those halls and stairways, always circling back to the beginning, always ending up back in the place where I had started.
Over the building’s main entry, a faded mural depicted settlers moving west. A woman in the center of the panel had her arm raised and pointed toward the horizon. The mural reminded me every morning that while the rest of the world explored great adventures, I was stuck quietly walking in circles.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me and heard me” (Psalm 40:1).
Everyone experiences periods of waiting. We will all face times when we wander in circles and wonder when we will break out of our pattern to cover new ground.
Throughout that year of waiting, as I was forced to circle back and confront myself every day, I learned many lessons about facing my fears and conquering the frustrations that kept me from moving forward. I began to see the value of traits we develop during times of waiting.
Patience: We can choose to have patience. We can commit to learning everything possible from our current situation. When the time is right and we are ready for new lessons, the road ahead will turn and take us in a different direction to a new and surprising destination.
Perseverance: We can’t stop walking. The only way to move forward is to keep moving, keep traveling. When we hit an occasional dead end, it’s alright to turn back and try a different route, but we have to keep taking one step after another.
Trust: God is working for us behind the scenes. While we wait and trust, God is shifting walls, removing barriers, and directing the traffic that will take us where we need to be. When we’re ready to move on, God will rearrange the signs to point us toward the place he wants us to go.
Hope: As long as we live, we will always have hope. There are always new opportunities to find and new challenges to face. When we keep moving and keep looking forward, our path will be open to new experiences and our eyes will discover new vistas.
After a year of walking through the cold and empty hallways, I did set off on a new path. I moved to a new home, started a new school, changed jobs, made new friends, and met my future husband. When we wait and trust in the path God has planned, we will escape the daily climb to reach more wide and expanding spaces.
How do you face a period of waiting? In what direction is God leading you today?
Many years ago, I worked briefly as a proofreader in a government office. One of my coworkers was an older gentleman who enjoyed chatting more than he enjoyed proofreading.
Whenever the office had a difficult day, when deadlines loomed, or attitudes and morale suffered, my coworker said, “We need to throw off some ballast around here. We need to throw some stuff overboard so we can rise above it.”
Ballast is the row of sandbags tied to the sides of hot air balloons. Ballast keeps the balloon balanced and grounded, but for the balloon to lift off the ground, some weight has to be untied and left behind.
We all have ballast in our lives that we sometimes need to let go so we can gain altitude and start soaring.
Memories of past mistakes keep us tied to the past. We need to leave behind our regrets, forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know then, and carry only the lessons we’ve learned as we navigate forward.
The need for control can keep us bound to situations that are not our responsibility to fix. We have to let others own their own balloons and control their own altitude and steering.
Anger is a particularly heavy burden to bear. Everyone has some anger to release, or it will drag us scraping and bumping along the ground, unable to lift off and take flight.
When we recognize what is holding us back, we can pitch it over the side and watch it drop as we soar on, growing faster and lifting higher. When we leave behind the things that hold us down, we will gain new experiences, grow into new perspectives, and travel much faster than we ever thought possible.
What is holding you down today? What do you need to leave behind so you can fly a little higher?