Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Struggle sticks closer than a brother...

I laughed when I read that sentence...Struggle sticks closer than a brother. Mary Farrar wrote that in her book "Choices." She went on to say,

"Struggle is actually a vital part of the process of growing. Consider a tree. Its roots are empty hands stretched out to the earth. It is dependent on the sun, the air, the clouds, and the soil. But a tree doesn't sit there passively. No, in order for a tree to be healthy and grow, it must struggle. It must put forth an enormous amount of energy every day to raise the water and minerals from the soil to its leaves. It has been estimated that the work of a large tree on a given day equals the amount of energy expended by a person carrying three hundred buckets of water, two at a time, up a ten-foot flight of stairs.

"That is major struggle. You see, struggle is okay. Struggle is part of growing up. The key in the midst of our struggle is that we have our roots tapped into the right source - the pure, unpoisoned, vitamin-rich water of God's truth. The best we can ever have will come from the hand of God - as we follow hard after Him."

I like that. It's very liberating. It makes struggling look like a good thing, not just a difficult season that one has to get through and then get on with life. More like a long-term process of growing closer to God.

I used to feel ashamed of my seemingly endless struggles...I thought maybe I was too immature, maybe I had too much junk from my past, maybe I just didn't bear enough spiritual fruit to stave off the struggles. As if a mature, pure, fruitful person shouldn't have struggles.

But according to Farrar, struggling is where the growth is. And when I think about my struggles, they've often come after I've prayed one of those prayers that goes something like, "Dear Jesus, I'm tired of being this way. Please change me! Transform me! I want to become more like You!"

And then, WHAM! Smack in the face comes another challenge to which I usually react wrongly and then beat myself up for being worse than I was before I said the prayer! But after some time of agonizing and pouring my heart out to God and being broken before Him, I start to see things a little differently, and I start to feel His amazing love for me, and little by little I see the change in me. And that gives me the courage to do it again..."Lord, there's this other problem I see in me...I'm sick of it. I don't want it anymore. Burn it out of me, Lord!"

And then, WHAM! Back in it again.

It can be pretty exhausting, all this refining and purifying, but it's worth the pain to realize that God is molding me, and I am drawing closer to Him. And He graces me with deeper understanding of who He is, and who I am in Him.

The struggles are not in vain...the struggles are the stepping stones to the throne of Grace.

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