"What makes life on this frightful sod so exquisite is God's merciful propensity to perform divine tasks amid deeply flawed people."
~ Beth Moore, LPM Blog ~
I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a set of towns known as Stoke-on-Trent or more affectionately called "The Potteries." This is a collection of towns where the potteries of English dishware have existed for hundreds of years. They are all there--Spode, Wedgewood, Burley, Leeds Creamware, and (my personal favorite) Portmeireon, among dozens of others. And the glorious thing is...they all have factory stores! It is a fun-filled day out, even for this shopping-phobic.
But there is a given in a factory store---the merchandise didn't get there unless it was flawed. Big flaw, little flaw, obvious flaw, hidden flaw. Somewhere on that dish, there is a flaw. And the flaw makes it a bargain. But you have to be patient to find flaws that will "work" together. I have an incredible set of 3 bowls that I paid ten pounds/five dollars for all three. I stacked bowls for quite some time before finding 3 that would fit snugly together--the flaw was in the sizing. Several friends bought the same bowls. One potluck dinner at church we all brought things in our bowls. And as we washed the bowls, it was easy to determine whose was whose--their bowls didn't fit in mine and vice versa. The flaws were not compatible.
Another visit to the Potteries found me sitting on the floor, painstakingly feeling the surface of Spode Christmas tree plates. I finally found twelve that stacked nicely and did not have any serious bumps in the center of the plate. Yes they are flawed, and I know where the flaws are from spending that much time choosing, but they are perfectly usable. And for twelve pounds/six dollars for the lot instead of twenty-five pounds for a single unflawed plate, it's worth it. The flaws do not make them unusable, they make them unique.
In the same way, our flaws do not make us unusable, they make us unique. God painstakingly looks into our lives, matches our flaws with areas of ministry and commissions us. If I'm trying to live someone else's life, I'll find that it is not a good fit. My flaws are connected to my life to make me the most useful I can be. So many of my ministries are with folks who have similar flaws--because we understand each other we can help each other. And as that is happening, an amazing phenomenon takes place. Our flaws become less sharp, less defining, less glaring. We smooth each other out. We find the healing of God in each other's flawedness. And we become stronger, not weaker. God is not content to leave us flawed--but He is more determined to use our flaws to minister to His Kingdom and grow us into His Likeness.
Scripture tells us that God is the master potter. He shapes us and reshapes us and reshapes us again until we become the likeness He envisions. I must trust that He knows how to form me. I need to allow Him to ease the flaws and make me useful. Only He understands the plans He has for my life, so I need to allow Him to bring the plans to fruition. How marvelous that part of the shaping of me is His use of other flawed people. How miraculous that His shaping of other people is in part because of His use of my flawed vessel. God is the master potter. Let's let Him shape us, flaws and all.
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? Isaiah 29:16
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him
working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as
seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:3-4
Dear Lord, today help me to understand that we are all flawed clay in Your hands. Help me to be gentle with myself regarding my flaws and to give them to you to be reshaped. Help me to be graceful to others regarding their flaws and trust You to work in their lives as well. Forgive me when this piece of clay has had the audacity to tell you how to shape me. I want to be moldable and useful. And I want others to see you shining as I minister despite my flaws. Thank you Father for being the Master Potter. I place myself in Your hands....Amen
This week our hostess for In Other Words is Laurel. Please come join us in reflecting on Beth Moore's quote. Blessings to your day!