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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It Is the Potter's Choice

It is the Potter's Choice
3-23-15

Anna Knoedl



“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21

With Parkinson's Disease, there are some days that are better than others. These days, I don't have the strength I did a few years ago – or even a year ago. It's not just that. My speech is slow and sometimes I don't breathe properly when speaking. I sound clumsy and hesitant, as if I am confused (which I am not). Sometimes people ask if I'm OK, and when I say yes, they politely look away as if they believed me. It's hard dealing with a body which doesn't act right. There is a list of things that at one time I did well – things that I no longer can do. Perhaps the most distressing thing is that I am not as sharp of mind as I used to be. I have talked to God a lot about this, shrinking from the humiliation of feeblemindedness. The best way of dealing with it is to face it head on, without complaining and be grateful for all that I do have.


“You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, "He did not make me"; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding ?” Isaiah 29:16
**
I am cut to the quick when I read this. Earth's brief period of temporal favor – temporary blessings – are meaningless and though once enjoyed, have been spent and no longer have even momentary value. These “blessings” are but a memory. Trying to hold onto them is rather like an old woman trying to look young. It is futile and heartbreaking to have pride in what I once could do, or to be proud of how I once looked. I used to feel capable of almost anything, but the “list” narrows it down a lot.

Strong and quick of mind, I never doubted my abilities. My voice did not waver or fade away in the middle of a sentence, nor was the sight of me unpleasant and there was no stiffness or muscles pulling the wrong way, making my body crooked. my gate once graceful, now can be labored and without rhythm – out of time and beat; I feel I am ugly............ heard only by those who see beyond all the clutter of once pleasant attributes that make the truth attractive. Like an unfaithful friend, these are all gone – the list of things I cannot do.- they are like a vapor this image I thought was me. Like an abandoned wife, I feel like I am worthless and ill suited for any worldly cause at all. My pride is still clinging to the old garments of self. I have found myself cradling yesterday's rotten clothes desperate to be that ghost.

“The Lord said: Israel, you have no right to argue with your Creator. You are merely a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn’t ask, “Why did you make me this way? Where are the handles?” Isaiah 45:9
Even time is fleeting. To what end? Once spent, forever gone and even memories fade
If this is all there is, then I am with nothing. Give me something to replace the longing I feel for Egypt.

Creator – Maker – Help me!!!! I am missing Egypt. and feeling sorry for myself. How do I yield to Your right to do with me what You will? How do I surrender completely to You, being willing to lose all things for Your sake? Paul got there. He said, “ But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,… “ Philippians 3:8



Diving into the deep end of the pool of water that You are, it is at first bitter. I know that eventually it will sweeten. But there is no “half in and half out”. I can see clearly that though it feels all wrong and perhaps even hopeless, this is the way that matters. I choose to plunge my whole self into the cold icy truth. I am what You have made me – I have what You have given me – I agree to dream only those dreams that You allow; I give up my own ideas wholeheartedly, holding back nothing, knowing that the only place for me – the only life that I can have is what You choose; what pleases You. I know that You are in authority over me. At my invitation, You will break away what resists. You will decide if I glorify Your name in power or weakness, beautiful or practical, graceful or not, healthy or sick..........You are the potter and I am the clay. With Your hands, You will work truth and beauty into my substance – kneed it til it's ready. Then another process begins. Until I am done. On this earth there will be the burning away of what is impure, useless or unyielding, and I choose not to fight this. It is a daily decision to die to what I wish and what I want. In the end, You are really all that I could want. You are what I need.

“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21


I am cut to the quick when I read this. Earth's brief period of temporal favor – temporary blessings – are meaningless and though once enjoyed, have been spent and no longer have even momentary value. These “blessings” are but a memory. Trying to hold onto them is rather like an old woman trying to look young. It is futile and heartbreaking to have pride in what I once could do, or to be proud of how I once looked. I used to feel capable of almost anything, but this “list” narrows it down a lot.

Strong and quick of mind, I never doubted my abilities. My voice did not waver or fade away in the middle of a sentence, nor was the sight of me unpleasant and there was no stiffness or any muscles pulling the wrong way, making my body crooked. my gate once graceful, now can be labored and without rhythm – out of time and beat; I feel I am ugly............ heard only by those who see beyond all the clutter of once pleasant attributes that make the truth attractive. Like an unfaithful friend, these are all gone – the list of things I cannot do.- they are like a vapor this image I thought was me. Like an abandoned wife, I feel like I am worthless and ill suited for any worldly cause at all. My pride is still clinging to the old garments of self. I have found myself cradling yesterday's rotten clothes desperate to be that ghost.

“The Lord said: Israel, you have no right to argue with your Creator. You are merely a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn’t ask, “Why did you make me this way? Where are the handles?” Isaiah 45:9
Even time is fleeting. To what end? Once spent, forever gone and even memories fade
If this is all there is, then I am with nothing. Give me something to replace the longing I feel for Egypt.

Creator – Maker – Help me!!!! I am missing Egypt. and feeling sorry for myself. How do I yield to Your right to do with me what You will? How do I surrender completely to You, being willing to lose all things for Your sake? Paul got there. He said, “ But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,… “ Philippians 3:8



Diving into the deep end of the pool of water that You are, it is at first bitter. I know that eventually it will sweeten. But there is no “half in and half out”. I can see clearly that though it feels all wrong and perhaps even hopeless, this is the way that matters. I choose to plunge my whole self into the cold icy truth. I am what You have made me – I have what You have given me – I agree to dream only those dreams that You allow; I give up my own ideas wholeheartedly, holding back nothing, knowing that the only place for me – the only life that I can have is what You choose; what pleases You. I know that You are in authority over me. At my invitation, You will break away what resists. You will decide if I glorify Your name in power or weakness, beautiful or practical, graceful or not, healthy or sick..........You are the potter and I am the clay. With Your hands, You will work truth and beauty into my substance – kneed it til it's ready. Then another process begins. Until I am done. On this earth there will be the burning away of what is impure, useless or unyielding, and I choose not to fight this. It is a daily decision to die to what I wish and what I want. In the end, You are really all that I could want. You are what I need.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

O, Sleeper, Wake Up!


My hands and arms are tingling and feeling numb. They are going to sleep. As I was thinking on this, I couldn't help but think about my spiritual body. And as a member of a larger spiritual body – the Church – there is a lesson in here for all of us.

We are in perilous times. It is not a time we would want to be found falling asleep on the job. If any one of us – as a member of Christ's body – is asleep, then we must know that this will cause pain and discomfort for the other members. By falling asleep, I can most certainly open the way for the enemy to come in and attack - to wound -up close. As a Body, our work will be of a poor quality, because some of us are asleep! Some of us can be wounded when other members are asleep. It is being a slacker . It is not believing the signs that God has told us to watch for. He doesn't want anyone to be surprised by the fierce and deadly attacks of the devil and his hordes upon Believers. He gives us many warnings in Scripture. But if anyone is not reading and studying God's Word, he is sleeping.

What does it mean to fall asleep spiritually? It means that when I am supposed to be on the lookout for danger and being prepared for whatever may come so that I can warn encourage and equip other members, I am asleep.

Wake up, Sleeper! The signs of the times are appearing on the horizon and rushing past us as never before. We don't know exactly when we will pass by the markers that are events we are told are coming, but we KNOW they are COMING and where once they were as a tiny dot on an uncluttered horizon, they are upon us now as giants on an anthill. Wake up, Sleeper! Do your job!

It is only in God's strength that we overcome. And when (not if) we see storm clouds approaching, but do not warn, then the resulting breach in the wall is on our heads. God will not be mocked. His judgement is coming and He will not be lenient upon our enemy who seeks to maim, kill and destroy, or the sins that sent Jesus to the cross. Don't think that any sin is so small that it does not need to be confessed and repented of. Don't sleep while there is still time to get out of bed, and be about the business of the Lord.


This is an uncomfortable message, but if you are reading it, it is meant for you – today. It is no accident that His message has come to me – today – and I have brought it to you. Ask God for help where you need it. Call on His name for help. Clean things up and leave no spot or wrinkle unattended to. He is a loving God, and His mercies are new each and every day. O, Sleeper, wake up!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Worship



Worship is setting aside time..........chores...........things...........and other people so I can lift God up to His rightful place in my life. It's so I can give back to Him the love I have received. Last week – all week – I was more aware of being a pilgrim in this foreign world. I consistently chose God over the TV, the phone, the computer and even house work. I deliberately kept my eyes on Him. I let my imagination kick in as well. Reading the Bible not only renews my mind. It stimulates my thought processes. I don't mean to sound so dry and matter-of-fact, but the really fun stuff comes AFTER the foundation work of good choices.
When I decide I want to start my day with Jesus – there I am, in my mind – pulling the other rocking chair up close so He'll be near.
Throughout the day, I choose to bring my Lord and Savior up close. I remember to admire Him and ponder His ways. Much of our time together is in silence, and I am learning the timber and tone of His voice - it is different from anyone else's. O, and we laugh together – sometimes uproarously, holding our sides. I've learned to expect small tokens of His love all day. And I've learned to give Him the same. Sometimes my gifts are like a child's drawing - simple and colored occassionally out of the lines.
Strangely enough though, it's the scaryness of this unsteady world, the mean people, the disappointments and the pain that pulls me in closest to Him.

With every choice inside of a day, I grow one way or the other - into Him or away from Him. This week I chose to make more of every day just worship, and I found comfort when He was near. When He is the center of my world, and I am not – all's well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

From the Old Home Bound for the New

From the Old Home, Bound for the New
3/11/15

Today, I am beset with worries, and my thoughts only make me fear. Perhaps today is the same for you. Well, this is nothing new, and many many people who have gone before us faced unsettling issues and problems for which they could find no answers. There have been more heartaches than anyone can count. Without saying more about that.........I will say this: God has things well in hand. He knows our trouble and it has come as no surprise to Him. He has come to put our feet on the right track and walk us through danger, through trouble, through disease, through the camp of giants, and any other thing that may threaten us or hold us back from all the good He has planned for us. He knows the way through to safety. It is not our way. It is not what we wanted or where we went when the road forked. But it is HIS way. It is the ONLY way.

At the beginning of time, when Adam rejected God and because of sin, could not walk with Him in the garden, a rift was created between ourselves and God. A veil was drawn over our eyes so that to us wrong seems right, and right seems wrong. If we will throw away our pride and admit that we are lost and cannot find our way back to Him, we can receive His help. But we must trust Him to help us.

In our case, among other things, this means He will help us through this disease on this day even though we don't have any strength; even though we think we cannot stand another minute of this humiliation; even though we cannot scrape together the remnants of the joy we once had; even though we have bourne the loss of things we thought we could never live without; even though it feels like life is over and we want no part of what's left.

King David was right there. He sang of it. He opened his heart up to God and held back nothing within it from the Lord. Here is some of what he wrote:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away. Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. I am like a broken vessel....”

Now we get to the “hope” part.............

I trust in Thee, O Lord. I say, 'Thou art my God.' My times are in Thy hand;” …... “Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; Save me in Thy lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon Thee;”................”How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a beseiged city....” Or we might say, in a beseiged body........ “ As for me, I said in my alarm, 'I am cut off from before Thine eyes; nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications when I cried to Thee, O, love the Lord all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful.... Be strong, and let your heart take courage all you who hope in the Lord.” taken from Psalm 31 NAS

There is no avoiding trouble in life. But there is a way through. We may make it to the finish line, torn and bruised, weary and hurt, but God has it all under control. He gave us the beautiful gift of life with blessing. Our ancestors brought sin into this perfect world, and we were all lost to His blessings. Then He provided a way – the only way – to get through our once perfect world that was ruined. The way is not easy, and doesn't always make sense. It sometimes hurts – because medicine can be bitter. But He has not cut us off from the way out – the way back to Him.

If you think you can commit to halfway following Him and the other half to doing things your own way, then you'd better think again. He will not be dishonored or disbelieved that way. It would be better to reject Him outright than to pretend to belong to Him and to pretend to love Him.


Don't be afraid. Live this life for Him, and headed for the beautiful home He has made for you. It's almost ready.