Friday, July 28, 2017

In the Potter's Hands


Recently, I've been praying about ways that I can be more intentional about sharing Bible stories, Faith, and activities with the kids. Of course, the kids have Bibles and we read devotions but trying to talk specifically with the kids about it is still occasionally awkward for me. I'm a little all over the place about it and I'd really like to be more in a natural habit. I know that we can do more things together as a family too while weaving scripture right into the moment. -Making it more fun and memorable. I probably do this more than I think I do but being more intentional and maybe deeper, is my goal. 

So, as we planned for vacation I prayed about opportunities. Since we were going to the beach, I thought about sand castles and how it could be a great activity for the Potter's Clay

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8.

The first day on the beach we laid out our belongings. As the kids ran off to the water, I stretched out on a sheet and looked to my right only to discover that the family next to us had a giant pile of sand. I chuckled a little because I have no idea how to build a sand castle, aside from the blob that comes out of a store-bought castle container. Even then, the contents never resemble the mold. This pile had to be a result of a family that knew what they were doing! -And the good Lord planted us right next to them! 


So, I enjoyed watching them work with their material. I was touched because occasionally as the Father carved and smoothed his design, pride for his creation would seep out into faint curls in the corners of his lips-- turning upward into an, oh so tiny, smile. You could tell that he enjoyed his time spent with his family but also in the making.

In fact, hours were spent doing so before anything was even recognizable. I couldn't help but imagine that God probably had a similar joy when we offer up our lives to His molding.

Deuteronomy 32:10 even calls us the apple of his eye and Proverbs 3:12 says that the Lord corrects those he loves and in whom he delights in. 

-->Delights in<--

And delight was exactly what could be seen on that man's face from time to time, even if I couldn't grab it in a photo. 





Unfortunately, we couldn't stay until the family was finished but I spoke to them about where they might post their work. Later, I looked them up on Instagram (@HeddenTheSand) and located this picture of the finished piece.



WOW, Right???  It turns out they've been doing this for many years and have participated in several competitions. Too cool!
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The above information alone is probably enough for the story with the kids but a few days later we decided to try a little something too. While we worked, I continued meditating on the similarities of faith and being molded. It jumps around a little but maybe something will speak to you and encourage you on your journey.
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In the beginning, God formed man from dust in the ground. - Genesis 2:7
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At first, the kids wanted to make a square sand castle. We made three layers and joked about how it looked more like a cake. We even talked about icing it with seashells. Rachel teased us that we'd been working for an hour and it didn't even look different because we had to keep straightening up the sides. But sometimes evidence and even the fruit of our faith is like that too because the foundation is being made right. It can take time. 

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of what we hope for, things unseen2 Corinthians tells us to keep our eyes fixed there.

We knew that we were making something. So, don't lose heart, if what you're working on isn't obvious yet either.
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Unsure of what to do next, I started making stairs on one side, while the kids tried to tidy up their end and figure out where to put the moat.

As it turns out there were many small components to our plan. It was pretty challenging to have that kind of detail, in this medium, on such a small scale. So we switched our plan to a sea turtle and it was so much easier to mold when we simply lopped off big sections.

In the same way, Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and active. It's able to separate soul and spirit, joints and marrow. This world might offer us a lot of 'canned molds' that often frustrate us as we try to fit our lives into them. But offering our life directly to our Father's hands often molds us 'free of form' and sometimes just as considerably.
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Contrary to what you might think, water was our biggest helper here! You might think that it would mess up your design, or 'change things too much,' but with a little practice, we learned how to apply it.

It actually made it easier to mold the sand as it filtered through and packed things together. Just the same, Isaiah 12:3 says that with joy, we will draw waters from wells of salvation.  JOY because we've learned of its power, its usefulness, its necessity. It changes everything.
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Every now and then we had to get up and stand back to look at what we had, to see if the proportions were even close enough. --What needed tweaking?



I can't really think of a specific verse here but in Ecclesiastes, King Solomon is looking back on his life. He recounts things that he got fixated on during his life that never brought him much joy, even though he thought he wanted them. -And he had everything!

In many ways, we're like that too. -Stuck on details and things that make us weary or frustrated when there is another way that we can live.  Why wait until the end and look back with regret-- step out of the traffic, take a view from God's angle, then adjust where necessary while you still can?!
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As it turns out, the place where I put those stairs seemed strange at first but later they were easily converted to the Turtle's head. You might call that intuition but 1 Kings tells us that the Lord's voice is similarly in a gentle whisper. Sometimes following his leading won't make sense or we can even write it off because it is spoken so softly.

But learning the heart of God, helps us recognize his voice. Meditating on his Word guides us and brings us peace, instead of the distraction and frustration that we mentioned earlier.
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And can we just admit that sometimes those 'distractions' are simply our trying to keep life neat and tidy? -Either by perfectionism or not dealing with something at all?!

While we were making the turtle, we were IN the sand. My legs were covered, arms were covered. I may have even had to bend in angles that I'd prefer not to in a crowd.  Our aunt said, "I have no idea how you can handle all of that sand on you."  -But when your vision and your faith are in line with your heart, it's easy to see the value of jumping in.

--And not only that, personal faith IS messy!
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You know we found a picture later on that Instagram page that had instructions to make a sand castle.

It said for the best result, you needed to bring real tools and dig deep down to the water table. You'll have to do some hard work and not care what people think, or what you look like, and deal with some things that you might not ordinarily prefer to.

But remember that alignment that I mentioned earlier? Well, Hebrews 6:19 calls it hope and tells us that it is an anchor for the soul.

You see, when we can see God's hand in our life, it gives us assurance and strength. Not only does it keep us grounded when things get hairy but 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 says that 'this hope' keeps us from getting crushed and perplexed when things get hard.

And all I can think of us how sometimes we're as fragile as sand. -So easily destroyed and moved but letting that water in, is what gives us strength. It holds us together. While we might be different, it's not really about the chemical of the sand or our physical makeup that has changed; it is really the power of the Lord at work in our life.

And Nehemiah 8:10 tells us just that when he says 'the Joy of the Lord is our strength.'
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Friend, I don't know how any of our lives will shape out but I can assure you of this- Where ever you are struggling in life, apply some of the living water to it. Don't be afraid to get your hands or heart dirty. Don't be afraid to make a mess and let others see. --Heck invite them to join you in the making and figure it out as you go.


Little ladies joined us from the next tent over.

Heck, it's kind of like this message thing with the kids. I tried to talk while we were molding the turtle but I never had all of the kids at the same time.

I tried to talk about it at the dinner table but every time I've tried that it was hard to have a conversation. I just wasn't sure if I should ask questions or tell a story.  The questions seemed too forced and difficult. (Probably because our mouths are full and we were starving.) So, we stopped and now that this is finished, I will try it as a bedtime story as I've done before from other trips. I trust with a little practice, we'll find a flow for sharing and inviting; building out from there. Feel free to use any parts of this for your own. :)

Until then, take a note from Paul-- wherever you are, continue in the goal of faith and getting to know the Lord in a new way. He too will continue His work in us. -Isaiah says he's already got us in the palm of his hand. Surrendering-- now that is up to us.




We had to go and couldn't finish the face.






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