I stumbled upon this old post I wrote many moons ago, but the concept that I contemplated at that time rings still ever true: is my life to be static and unchanging, or available, and open to be used by God?
These words truly speak to me these days, in the midst of yet another transition, relocation, and upheaval of life. This time the move is towards brighter days, but still I feel the pang of struggle knowing that my dear husband will now be at work for much of the day. I want to always cherish the time we got to spend together so sweetly in the trailer, even in the midst of the chaos and frustrations of cramped quarters.
But, simultaneously to my sadness at the closure of that time is the beginning of a sweet breath of welcome newness: we are buying a house, a precious house, full of all that we could have hoped and imagined. God even planted us in a location I never even knew about and yet am repeatedly and constantly swept away by the beauty and pleasantness of it. Not only that, but such a beautiful and sweet place is also filled with wonderful things to do as a family (and not all cost an arm and a leg).
In the midst of this transition, my mind is a whirl with the dichotomy of life: the ideal and the real. I hear the hopes and expectation of idealism bounce around in my head, projecting their criticisms into my days, yet on the other side the still small voice reminding me that even the messiness of the imperfect reality is beautiful, good, and full.
Pain is in idealism, while freedom rests in embracing the reality of life as it is.
It’s not always easy, but it is important to learn to embrace what is and release what isn’t, looking forward to the bright spots of life that welcome the Light of our Abba into our days.
As of this weekend I am 22 weeks along with our seventh child. My body is changing AGAIN. My belly is growing AGAIN, and I am faced with the reality that for the greater part of the last decade plus, I have been either pregnant and/or nursing.
My life has been constantly in flux, constantly changing, never stagnant or still…whether I liked it or not.
My life has changed with each baby, each sickness, each job transition, each struggle, but one thing that I have realized lately is that as much as the world likes to tell me that to be TRULY successful, truly glorious for God, that I am supposed to reach a “spiritual” high and then stay there, forever, the reality of this journey and walk with Him is that He does not ever leave us in a single space.
If we aren’t being challenged, struggling, and experiencing difficulties, we’re not growing…and likely not being used by God in a mighty way.
[bctt tweet=”If we aren’t being challenged, struggling, and experiencing trials, we’re not growing.” username=”JulieAnnFilter”]
Are You Available to be Used by God?
There is a certain appeal to the “trophy” life. It looks REALLY good on the outside. The trophy Christian might seem to really have it all together. They have the perfect little existence, with perfect little kids, a dreamy, perfect house, and amazing financial blessing.
Honestly, though, I have never met a deeply devoted Christian, whose walk has looked anything like this without having first experienced many fires, trials, and victories.
Maybe in movies, but real life…no ma’am.
In truth we face a reality in life where the path to obtain the look of such an external perfection is forged through the fires of use and purification. If we wish to experience the blessings He has marked out for us, we must first present ourselves as willing vessels to be used by God.
The truth is that as followers of Christ, as lives laid down for His sake, if we are truly following Him and seeking Him for the steps in our lives, and being used by God for His purposes, we will encounter and endure suffering, struggles, and difficulty.
The great liar and enemy of our souls would have us believe that struggling and suffering mean that we are somehow “outside of God’s Will.” He suggests that if we are enduring a season of sickness, financial hardship, etc. that it is because we are being punished by God.
Although I will not suggest that sinful choices do not often bring negative consequences to our lives, I will absolutely say that not all struggles are due to some sinful act on our part.
Sometimes we endure trials and suffering because we are rubbing up against the fallen realities of a fallen world.
Sometimes we experience trials because for whatever reason in the infinite knowledge of God, He knows that such a trial is the most critical for our growth and communion with Him.
This reality has nothing to do with personal choices and their consequences.
Are You a Tool or a Trophy?
While a trophy life is the one that can be placed on the shelf to look good and be admired, the life of the “tool” is one of frustration and perseverance. The tool does not pick and choose where and how it will be used. The hammer does not say to the craftsman, “No, I don’t think I want to be used today. :::yawn::: Ask me again tomorrow.” The saw does not see the project at hand and go running in the opposite direction.
No, tools are simply created for use, to make beautiful and purposeful projects at the hands of the craftsman who uses them. As followers of Christ, we are called to be God’s willing tools on earth. We are here to get dirty, beat up, used, chipped, and broken in. We may sit in a tool box for a period of time and enjoy relaxation, but eventually the Master builder will pick us out once again to be used by God for His good purposes.
He is building a holy Kingdom, and we are part of the building process.
For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” ~ 1 Cor. 3: 9
When I look at my body, and the many, MANY changes it has endured over the years, I realize that every stretch mark, every scrape, every skin-fold and flap are part of my use as a tool for Him. When I look over my life and review the pains and the sorrows and the sadnesses I have endured, I see His glorious use of this vessel for Him.
The Christian walk was never meant to be easy. The “trophy life” is easy. The trophy life is pretty. The trophy life looks really good on the outside, but is empty and full of pride on the inside.
The life of God’s tools, His Body, His chosen people, is one of getting our hands dirty, enduring the trials of this life, and being transformed on the inside while pressed down on the outside.
Tools are only valuable and useful when in the hands of the Craftsman. A hammer sitting idly does no one any good.
Ask any carpenter what tools he/she prefers, and you will likely hear the accolades of “Old Faithful,” the tool that has been used and loved for years on end. The tools that are broken in and molded to the hands of the craftsman are those which truly become the most critical for the craft.
Are you molded to the hand of the Craftsman?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2: 10
When you look back over your life, do you see the life of a trophy or a tool? Have you picked and chosen your path carefully to avoid trials, difficulties, struggles, and adversities? If so, you might have a stagnant reality that looks really good on the outside, but is empty on the inside.
But, if you have lived surrendered to Him, choosing the paths down which He leads you, even if it means suffering and struggling at times, welcome to the Christian walk, with all its glorious education for dying to self.
It doesn’t always look pretty, but being used by God is always worth it, even if His calling is not glamorous or recognized by others.
Take heart, fellow tools, God’s continuing to use you for His good works, molding and shaping you to fit comfortably into the palm of His hand, like a good Craftsman. One day all the work that you have been part of building will be revealed, and it will all be worth it in the end.
Are you a tool, or a trophy? It’s never too late to get off the shelf and be used.