Clay Walks: A life lived in love

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*photo made with the vrsly app, using a pexel.com photo
Are the pages of Isaiah getting easier to turn as we man-handle the pages? My study Bible has these ridiculously thin pages and until a section has been tossed and turned again and again, I trip and I fall around trying to find the right chapter and verse. The pages stick together. I turn them and go six chapters too far. I back track and finally land on the selected passage. It becomes easier as I turn the pages more and more. As I study more, the pages have my fingerprints all over them. A side effect of this is that the pages get just crinkly enough that I can turn them deftly and without all the frustration.

This is how faith seems to work as well. Turn to Isaiah 30:18-22.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

Walking, like our fingers moving across the pages of our Bibles, is one of the descriptors of faith in the Bible. In Isaiah 30, we find a fun name for our God associated with this walk – Teacher.

We do not walk alone, girls. We have a Teacher who guides and leads. While this passage doesn’t speak about clay, it fits into our title of clay because clay is moldable. It’s instruct-able. When we say, “Mold me and make me, Lord. You are the potter, I am the clay.” We also say –

Teach me.

Walk with me.

Show me the way.

Isaiah 30 gives us clarity in this picture. As we walk in faith, not in perfection, but simply walking, we grow up into Him, into the Teacher, Christ Jesus. Look at Ephesians 4:14-15:

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

Look just a tiny bit further in your Scriptures and rest on Ephesians 5:1-2.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Living the truth in love looks a whole lot like walking.

Therefore…walk in love. I so often walk in hurt, in bitterness, in impatience, in discontent, in annoyance, in apathy.

Because of Jesus Christ, I can walk in love. I am instruct-able. I need and I have a Teacher to show me the way, to walk beside me, to walk behind me and cover me in forgiveness when I mess up. He also walks ahead to guide me in the True Light.

When I learn, I’m walking. When I grow, I’m walking. When I trust, I’m walking.

Check out Acts 9:1-2.

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Paul, he was walking as God’s clay before he even knew it. He was walking hunting down people. He was walking in destruction. It’s ironic that Christianity is referenced here and only here as “the Way.” Neither right nor left, friends. Jesus is the Way. Paul walked and life changed forever along that Way.

When I am wrong, I’m walking. When I repent, I’m walking. When the breath of forgiveness rushes in, and covers my sin, I’m walking.

He leads. I walk. In His love, in His mercy, through crinkly pages and brokenness into marvelous, inestimable Grace.

Keep walking, friend. Clay walks.

 

Exploration:

What was your first experience with studying the Bible?

 

What group Bible studies have been memorable for you?

 

What is the hardest part of walking in love for you?

 

 

Knowing who’s the potter and who’s the clay

There are things in this life that people try to explain to me that I simply will never understand. Radio waves and how sound travels, I just don’t get it. Anything beyond the very basic laws of physics – nope, don’t understand it. Abstract art, for the most part, you could explain it until the day is long, but I still miss the point most times.

I’ve made peace with this. At 37 years, I’m just old enough to know that life is short, and young enough to still be going full throttle. While I want to understand things, I can accurately identify when to say, “I’m so thankful other people understand that. Thank you, Lord, for the diversity of the human mind.” Sometimes it’s ok to just be perplexed. It feels really good. It means that there is something bigger than us, that we don’t know everything, nor are we intended to, that we need each other, and one another’s gifts, God is God in His courts, and I am not He.

Today, we will learn that, as clay, there is freedom in understanding. We have a place in this art of understanding.

Please read Isaiah 29:15-19 –

Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
    whose deeds are in the dark,
    and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
    “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
    “He has no understanding”?

17 Is it not yet a very little while
    until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
    the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
    and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

So often in this world, we want to be the potter and not the clay.

We want to know, but on our own time, our own topics, in our own place. We are the hiders from the Lord’s counsel (v. 15). We think we know, when really we just don’t. We turn things upside down.

Look up these supporting passages to get a fuller picture of wisdom and understanding from the Biblical perspective.

Proverbs 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:25

Colossians 2:2-3 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And God does open our eyes and our ears, our hearts, and our minds. He is our potter, and He works the clay and turns the wheel in ways we least expect it. Colossians above tells us that we won’t just receive understanding from knowledge, but that we will receive understanding from encouragement and unity and love.

We become a fruitful field like Lebanon in Isaiah 29:17.

We obtain fresh joy (v. 19).

Why? Because we opened a Book.

When we come together in community around the Word there is no understanding quite like it. God opens minds, and God alone. Drugs are created and healing happens because God ordained it. Radio waves collect together across space and do whatever they do because God wants us to hear. Art becomes art because we were gifted with vision and color and talent from a Creative God. But no wisdom, no understanding is quite as magical as the beauty of the blind seeing and the deaf hearing (Isaiah 29:18) because the people of God gathered round to hear the words of the Bible. This brings us out of darkness into the light of understanding.

Lord, open our eyes, open our ears to Your wisdom. Give us hearts that are encouraged and minds that fire neurons that are continuously growing in You. You, oh Father, are our Potter. You, Jesus, mold us in Your image every day. Spirit, grant that our knowledge would always be accompanied by the Love and Unity with Your people. Lord, help us each day, that what we learn and grow in may always glorify You and lead us in Your truth and lead others to Salvation in Your Word. In Jesus name we pray, by the power of the good and gracious Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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*photo made with the retype app
Exploration:

What leaves you perplexed in this world?

What connection do you see between knowledge, understanding, and love?

How does God work understanding when people study the Bible together or offer one another Christian wisdom?

On playdough, Daniel Tiger, and being right where I belong

Image courtesy of the Schuler Family 😊

This post goes out to all the sweet mamas who allow playdough in their house. They have my kuddos.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8)

Midweek is back in session at church, and while I’m excited to see the faith growth it will bring to my children, it also means something else…Daniel Tiger night. Judge me if you will, but I really love this one and a half hour time slot when I get to curl up on the couch with my smallest child, snuggle it out, and hear life’s problems solved from the vantage point of a 3-foot-tall talking tiger and his family.

Last Wednesday, Zeke and I were happily watching Daniel Tiger pick multiple kinds of fruit in an animated garden when the show switched to a montage of a live action family on the screen to drive home whatever lesson of the night. This was all well and good until…wait for it…the family on the screen started mixing play-dough colors.

I kid you not, there was serious color mixing going on, with parental approval. They were making some kind of pizza with a pink bottom and green, red, yellow, and white bits of toppings. The preschool- aged child was happily pushing the colored bits as far into the play-dough crust as you can get it, and all I can think is “AHHHHHHHHH, it’s never going to come apart! Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. You are well on your way to molding brown play-dough. Who wants brown play-dough? What are these parents thinking??!!”

At that moment, Zeke looks at me and says, completely unaware of my inner dialogue of judgmentalism , “Ooooo – they’re making rainbow play-dough.”

Perspective opened.

These children, this family was making something. They were making something pretty, something that felt good, something crafted by their own two hands, their own six hands together. That’s what Zeke saw, when all I saw was a mess.

So often, this is the way our life is with God.

I look around and I see mess. He sees molding and shaping and crafting and creativity.

Please read Isaiah 64:1-8 in your Bible, or select portions below, v. 1,4,7-8-

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at your presence—

From of old no one has heard
    or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
    who acts for those who wait for him.

There is no one who calls upon your name,
    who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Imagine God, coming down from the mountains to be part of your life. He doesn’t have to engage. He doesn’t need us. He is God. But He values relationship in a way that I’m not even sure we can fully comprehend. One of His primary attributes is omnipresence. He can be everywhere at one time. Many of us know this as a nice theological idea, but don’t forget the personal context of it. He is present. He comes down.

He deigned to create the universe and walk in the garden with Adam and Eve. He came down from heaven to walk our soil as Jesus Christ, God made flesh. He is present. He sent His Spirit to live and dwell among us, God in our hearts and lives and homes. He is present. He will come back and restore this Earth and me and all Creation to perfection. He is present.

The message of our passage in Isaiah 64 is not only are we made and formed by God but this…

We are held by God.

Read Isaiah 64:8 again,

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Often we are not looking for Him where He is found (Isaiah 64:3), because He is right there holding us. We want a bright neon sign with solar panels and flashing lights to show us God. We want trumpets and angel choirs, and something bigger and better than our current situation. But that’s not His style. He can do that, but instead, He holds us in His hands. He holds us in His tight grip of grace.

What has God shaped in your life? How has He used ordinary to bring you closer to Christ and to guide you in His paths?

This week, as we discover how we ourselves are clay held in the potter’s hands, being shaped and formed, we will also see how God teaches as Potter, how He instructs us in our purposes and forms us as His vessels, and what glory there is in essentially being mixed up like play-dough, God forming rainbow beauty when we thought it was all just leading to muddy brown.

For today, know this, from Isaiah 64. God being our Potter, means He’s holding us in His hands.

“We are all the work of your hand…”

means we are all currently the work of His hands. Not we were His work when he created us, or we will be when we are in heaven.

We are the work of His hands. Each and everyone of us. Held, everyday.

See you tomorrow, you beautiful lump of rainbow-colored-playdough you. Until then, be held.

 

Exploration:

Tell us about something weird that gets to you. I revealed my mixed play-dough anxiety…your turn!

What has God shaped in your life?

How has he used ordinary to bring you closer to Him and mold you in His paths?

Clay Scripture Engagement Tool

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