Prepared. That is the word that has come to my mind the most this past week. Prepared. I know so well that God has prepared Clay and me to for this moment. The words He has spoken to us and the way He has challenged us over the past few years, in hindsight, has obviously been preparation for the greatest battle of our lives.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 says,
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready (prepared) for every good work.”
I’m sure you couldn’t help but notice that there are vessels of “Clay.” I’ll come back to that in a minute. God has been using this verse in my life for a few years. I’ve been crying out to Him to make me a vessel of gold and silver, a vessel of honor, prepared unto every good work. I would pray in the altar, “God, please make me prepared to do whatever you ever you put before me. Please don’t let me miss an opportunity for my life to bring you glory. Please don’t let me miss out on a blessing because I’m not prepared or I’m distracted. Of course, like you, I have missed out on so many things. There have been so many times that I chose my flesh, my feelings, over the will of God. Times where I put myself first. Times where I was lazy, rather than diligent. Times where I was just playing church and not really seeking God. But, I prayed this prayer from an honest heart…over and over again.
You know how the Bible talks about how trials bring us closer to God? Trials develop our faith. I would read scripture, or listen to my pastor speak about how every Christian goes through trials because that is the development of our walk with the Lord. It is how He receives His glory through our lives. Clay and I have lived a blessed life. From our childhoods, we have both been abundantly blessed with Godly parents, Godly friends, we both had great career paths, we found each other and fell madly in love on our first date, we always had everything we needed, we have three beautiful kids….we are just so blessed. And, while, of course, we dealt with ordinary problems, we really have only faced a few significant trials in our life.
I remember one time we went to see our Pastor to talk about some things God was showing us and I told him that sometimes I fear that we are not walking with the Lord the way we should because we are not tested often. We live a blessed life, rather than a life of trials and I wondered what that meant. Does that mean we aren’t making enough of an impact on the world for Satan to be concerned about us, so he just leaves us alone to live our little Christian life that is not impacting anyone. Sometimes I wondered if it meant that we were not even close to where we needed to be. Like we had possibly deceived ourselves into thinking that we were saved and living for the Lord.
So in the midst of my questioning, God showed up. Like He always does. Right? A few years ago, He took us through something difficult. During the process, Clay and I were talking one night about how, at the time, it was the hardest thing we had faced, but we were strong and our marriage was strong and our faith was strong and the Lord was closer than ever. We didn’t feel a heaviness or fear. We were rejoicing. And the Holy Spirit just spoke to us right then and said,
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He taught us through that trial that because of His strength, the yoke can be easy. Just because it is the most difficult thing we’ve done, doesn’t mean that we have to feel a heavy burden. We don’t have to be crushed under the weight. We can soar because he is holding the burden for us.
So, we made it through our struggle and we were closer to the Lord for it. God changed my heart during that time and He caused me to trust Him more. He confirmed my faith, He confirmed the strength of our marriage, and He showed me that He was with us in times of blessings or in times of trial. Do you feel so ridiculous when you realize that you’ve questioned God? I just felt so ridiculous, but He forgave me and loved me and drew me closer and we walked on together.
Now, that we are in our greatest trial and we are completely desperate, God is making Himself known to us more than ever. He has transformed us from vessels of clay to vessels of gold and silver. And, not for our glory. Not for our pride. Not so we can receive attention. Believe me, we don’t want any of that. We would never have chosen this. But to be a vessel of gold means to be a vessel of honor and that is what we have prayed for….that our lives would bring honor to God. Glory to God. That the watching world would see Jesus through us and through our situation. As you read this, or hear us talk, please remember that all we want is for Jesus to be glorified. He is doing this. Not us. There is nothing good in us. Even the things we think are good are not good.
Clay’s cousin, Cory Harrington, sent him a text yesterday about how encouraged he was to see what God is doing. He said, “See, God really can use a little lump of Clay.” I’ll never forget that. If I write a book one day about this situation, that just might be the title. God is using Clay…that is for sure. He is in God’s hands and God is the potter. He is making the vessel that He wants to see and the vessel that will bring Him the most glory.
Yesterday we sang the song “Redeemed” at church. One of the lines says, “I’m not who I used to be.” That’s how we feel right now. We never want to go back to what we were before this. Clay might even have to change his name when God heals him because he is no longer a vessel of clay, he is a vessel of gold, fully prepared for this good work for which God has called us. We pray constantly that God will keep us from sin and pride during this time. That we will remain, in every way, a vessel of honor.
But we are not of those who draw back unto perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Amen.