Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Yielded and Shaped

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I'm preparing for a speaking engagement this summer. The topic is "Shaped".  There will be a live pottery demonstration happening as well as pieces of pottery on each table. But as I read the various Scriptures about the concept of the Potter (God) and the clay (us), I'm beginning to see what an unpleasant message this is. 

For instance, this is what Jeremiah writes, "So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be." (Jeremiah 18:3-4)

Hmm, we say, isn't that nice. How lovely to be shaped into something else. But is it? Are we generally open to not getting our own way?

Or how about this one. Isaiah, after a long chapter about how sinful and rebellious we are as people, he writes, "Still, God, you are our Father. We’re the clay and you’re our potter: All of us are what you made us." Isaiah 64:8

Really?  When I look in the mirror at the end of the day, do I really say, "I am what you made me to be . . . you're the potter, I'm the clay, you're the boss, whatever you say goes!"

I don't think so. 

If I'm honest, I'm more likely to look in the mirror at the end of the day and reflect on a self-managed person who either knocked the ball out of the park or could do things better tomorrow.

For me, it takes daily discipline of attentiveness to God and His activity in my life in order for me to be aware that God is actually in charge. And in those sweet moments when I see it, and my heart is soft and I'm yielded to His ways, I feel great relief and security and some loss - as I give up my own ways. But in those moments, it's a good loss.

As I think of preparing this talk, I imagine the women who will be at the event and guess that many of them, myself included, have heard a message on this topic before. The challenge is to let God's Word speak clearly without sanitizing it or making more palatable. And the other challenge is that if we've all heard this message before, then we might respond,"Oh, yes, this message. I know the moral to this story: be broken, be yielded, surrender to God. Yes, this is a good one!" And we take another sip of coffee, one more bite to finish off the cheesecake and continue listening . . . thinking, "this IS a nice luncheon". 

So I want to get to the core of what it means to be yielded to God. What does it look like? Sound like? Smell like? Taste like? If I came to your house for tea and visited with you, heard your stories, watched you interact with your spouse or roommate or kids or in-laws . . . would "yielded to God" be the theme that I experienced? If you bumped into me at the grocery store and my favourite type of salad dressing was out of stock, would you hear a yielded spirit in my words? When our church makes changes that we're not used to,  when we're not acknowledged for our hard work, when someone we love leaves us, rejects us, hurts us .  .  .  can we yield our response to the response God wants us to have?

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One expression our son brought into our home was "tupper-awareness". It's the ability to choose the right tupperware to match the amount of left-overs you wish to put into the fridge. (Brilliant, I think!)

How about yield-awareness? (It's not as clever, I know.) But what if we became more aware of our willingness (or unwillingness) to yield to God's will.  When a situation arises that goes against what we thought was a good idea . . . can we have yield-awareness and ask ourselves, "Am I willing to yield?" Our answers may not always be yes, but they will be honest, at least, and since God already knows the state of our heart, its a step in the right direction!

Heather Hayashi4 Comments