>(Written Jan 18, 2008)
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been told over and over the list of things that must be done for God’s favor to rest upon you. After all, the Sermon on the Mount is full of things that Jesus takes even further than the Old Testament law! It’s our chore list of things to earn God’s blessing upon our lives. It’s almost as if we accept the free gift of salvation, but we are convinced that beyond that free gift, God’s involvement in our life is simply to reward us when we do right, punish us when we disobey, and give us guidance along the way as we have to make decisions in our life. Meanwhile, it’s our job to make sure we tow the line when it comes to that list He’s put in front of us. I don’t know about you, but even the thought of that exhausts me! Half the time I can’t even keep my house clean, much less keep my “mom of three, pastor’s wife, homeschooler, and a million other titles” mind on praying without ceasing, hiding God’s Word in my heart, being thankful in everything, and loving my neighbor as myself. And that’s not even counting the commands to be slow to anger, not showing favoritism, meeting the needs of the poor, and on and on.
I think the Psalmist must have felt the same way when he exclaimed, “Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! Then I shall not be ashamed when I look upon all Your commandments.” (Ps 119:5-6) Yes, I’ve been reading through the Psalms, and I have to be honest – I was not looking forward to Psalm 119.. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found brand new nuggets of truth buried in passages I’d read over and over before. (Thank You, Lord, for Your Living Word!) Psalm 119:33-40 is just such a passage. As I read this passage, I realized how many times the Psalmist referred to things that he trusted God to do as opposed to the number of things he could do on his own. He asked the lord to “make” him walk in the path of His commandments! Wow! Does that mean that God will move our feet if we surrender ourselves to Him? He asked the Lord to incline his heart to the testimonies of the Lord. Will God move our willing hearts in the right direction? Is willingness and a passion for the way of the Lord the only thing we really need? Is it possible that our incredible God will actually take our willing hearts and make us into what we’re supposed to be?
What a relief to me! I exhaust myself trying to make myself into what God wants me to be, but the truth is that only God can perform that task. We can try and try, but our miniscule attempts will get us nowhere. If they would work, then why would we need the Holy Spirit’s presence to help us? We wouldn’t! No, God does that work. He just asks for a willing heart – He asks us to be clay which, in my opinion, is a lump that really doesn’t “work”. Does that give us an excuse to do nothing? Hardly! Think of what clay deals with…It has to go through the molding, which can be uncomfortable. It has to go through the fire, which is downright painful. But it has no responsibility to mold itself into the beautiful vessel. That’s the potter’s job.
Now, don’t think I’m saying we don’t have to work. Jesus called for laborers to bring in the harvest. God calls us to obedience and to submission. But if we could really do it all on our own, there would have been no need for the death of Jesus, no need for the intervention of the Holy Spirit, and no need for the growing hand of God in our lives. If we are willing to be pliable and to listen as He gives us each instruction, His loving hand will mold us into what we’re supposed to be. He will bring to our rememberance how we should act until it becomes an unconscious habit in our lives. Will we let the Potter do His work in us? What beautiful creations we will become if we are willing and pliable clay!