At the start of 2011, I decided to choose a “word for the year” that would be my central goal, a word that would hold me accountable not only with my walk with God but also, in turn, with my life in general.
Obedience. Oy vey. Obedience.
That’s the torch that kept reverberating through my thick-skull.
“Really? Really? Are you sure, God?” I begrudgingly asked.
He knows me so well. Sometimes it irks me how well He does.
“Yes, daughter. Obedience. That’s your focus for the year. Listen to me, and only me,” I heard.
Blech. Are we allowed to say that to God?
So obedience it was and obedience it is and and obedience it is to come. Begrudgingly.
I say this because let me tell you, sweet friends. … Be very, very careful and hold on for dear life when you feel God nudging you to choose “obedience” as your “word for the year”.
Because here’s the deal, sisters (and brothers for you six male readers). When God calls you to be obedient to Him, He’s usually about to put you into the Refiner’s Fire.
Now, please hear me on this one – I realize the end-result of obedience is a glorious thing. I comprehend completely why obedience to God refines and reshapes who we are to an even better version of our former selves.
I also believe our God is a loving God, one that is literally our Father. He’s a parent. To us.
Those of us parenting children know that sometimes we must praise. Sometimes we must discipline even if we don’t want to do so but know we would miss a critical teaching opportunity if we didn’t. Sometimes we giggle lovingly at our children like when our toddler is having an “it’s-the-end-of-the-world” tantrum and we must suppress our amusement because we know that it is not indeed the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.
The angry toddler wants what HE wants. He wants HIS plan.
But we parents know the big picture. We know the plan. Our tantrum-throwing toddler WILL emerge out of this dark place and get back on-track. Usually after a viewing of “Yo Gabba Gabba” and a snack.
I like to think that perhaps God does the same thing with us. While He always loves us and hurts when we hurt, I can’t help but wonder if He sometimes has to suppress a giggle or two here and there when He sees us trying to do it our way.
Yes. I think He probably giggles with me often. Because when I dig my heels in, He sees the big-picture and I don’t. I don’t know what is going to ultimately end up happening but He does and so far, His plan for my life has been MUCH better than my own.
What I didn’t quite initially understand about obedience is the fact that “Obedience” is one fat umbrella and it’s spokes, oh dear. The spokes.
They are named “Humility” and “Pride”. Blech.
Once upon a time, I thought you were good in the humility department if you didn’t brag much and you belittled yourself a bit to others. I thought pride was again, simply just boasting.
I’m pretty sure He giggled at my naivety. And yes, in a loving way.
My focus on obedience to Him has forced me to meet these twins eye-to-eye. I’ve stretched my thinking, changed some views, and held-fast to some I already possessed.
Four months into this new year, God couldn’t make it any clearer – there’s a billboard in my driveway. An airplane that flies over my house with a banner. Commercials on TV. The lesson is that obvious.
In the end, I know I’m a cracked jar of clay and through those cracks the light will shine. However, He must fill those cracks so the light WILL indeed shine through.
He has shaped me. He has molded me. He has made me just how He wants me to be right at this moment. Then He placed me in the Refiner’s Fire.
The fire has been hot. It’s been exhausting.
And yet, I see the fruit it bears. I see the shiny glaze beginning to settle. I see the way the light hits certain angles.
Because through obedience, God has reshaped some pieces of this pot into a far greater vessel.
A vessel that glorifies Him.
And while the cracks are still there, the light shining through is much brighter.
On this Multitude Monday, I thank you, God for:
391. The potter who patiently shapes and molds
392. Your sense of humor
392. Your timing and the “ironic coincidences” that are not coincidences in the least
393. Meeting the twin sons, “Humility” and “Pride”
394. Unseasonably warm days, a much-needed release for bottled-up energy
395. The celebration of a four year old’s life
396. The budding trees and flowers
397. The official removal of the electric blanket for the season
398. The arrival of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) money – Farmer’s Market will be starting soon!
399. Dinner with a dear friend
400. Family and friends who travel to celebrate with my son
Should you meet “Humility” and “Pride” this week, may you also meet their byproduct – the loving lesson. May the cracks in your jar glow brighter and may you allow the potter to do His glorious work.
“…that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
Joining Ann for “Mulitude Monday” and Jen for the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood...
I always like your comparisons….they help me paint a mental picture and remember :) I am so thankful He molds and shapes us… and He does not leaves us the same He continues the process all of our life.
Beautiful gifts as always. <3
You always have such a way with words. God uses you to touch my heart – to both challenge and encourage me. Now I will spend today pondering and praying about what my focus should be.
Told ya so…I knew that my word was Obedience but Humility kept popping up everywhere….and YOU said…”Hmmm…maybe they’re connected.” Yup…totally. You are a good blogger…you blog about it…I haven’t been able to get it out….that whole Refiner’s fire can be touchy to post about. Love you…))HUGS((!
Natalie, I think we may have been cut from the same cloth. Not only do I see myself in your writing style, but I have always loved (and tried to design/paint/draw/mold in various media and to no avail) the picture of the cracked clay jar with the light pouring from the cracks (if you’ve seen a good rendition, please let me know), but just yesterday at church I was telling my small group that, since becoming a parent, I have better understood the picture of my relationship with God for the very reasons you state. In fact I gave almost the exact example you did, except mine was about wanting cookies before dinner and me, the mom, knowing why that is not a good idea and the child not being able to understand the bigger picture. Weird, huh?
Glad I found your blog.
so thankful to know you — your words always share truth in love!!
I can relate to this on so many levels. I feel like my reaction to this has words falling all over each other in my head and I just can’t articulate what I want to say. So, I’ll leave it at this:
Your post spoke to me in ways that I just can’t begin to express. As a servant who is seeking obedience as well, it’s so refreshing and encouraging to hear of another believer’s journey. This can be a scary path…especially for someone who likes to know what’s coming next and plans EVERYTHING! Seriously, you should see my travel itineraries. BUT I’m trying to remind myself that God’s word is a lamp unto my feet…which means that I can only see a few steps in front of me, not 50 yards. So I second my SIL’s very wise and concise response, “YES.” ;)