Several months ago I shared that I hadn't been inside a church since before Christmas. I also shared my reasons behind not going to a church in that time. Until last night, that status had not changed.
So yeah, I went to church this week. Oh, and a disclaimer for casual readers of this blog: this post will contain materials that cover religion, theology, and personal belief systems. If these things make you uncomfortable, please keep reading.
I've been struggling a lot lately. I've been very unhappy in my personal life for a very long time. I stress out and become enraged about little things that I really have no control over. I thought that a change of scenery would help me in how I felt. It hasn't. Not remotely.
I've never been one to think that being involved in a church was essential for salvation as a part of my faith in Christ. But I do believe that being a part of a church can help a Christ follower to grow in their faith. I've known that it was something missing in my life. But I've ignored the importance of that activity in my life.
The speaker last night used a common illustration as a part of his sermon that I've heard before. But he used it in a way that I can't believe I've never thought of before.
Lots of people like to use that illustration of God being a potter while we're the clay that He molds and forms into the people He wants us to be. All my life I've thought of this as a beautiful analogy and I simply pictured a potter shaping a vase on the potter's wheel. It's nice to see that picture of someone making something so beautiful out of a clump of dirt. But I always just thought about what it looks like to see that vase taking shape on the wheel. I never think about what the clay looks like before it takes shape.
Have you ever worked with clay? I took a ceramics class back in high school. Do you know what it takes to start shaping clay into something you can actually work with? You have to beat the crap out of it. You literally have to throw it down, knead it, slap it, even punch it, to make it pliable enough to shape it the way you want it. You have to work out the air bubbles that get trapped inside it, because if you don't, once you fire it in the kiln, those air bubble will expand and cause your creation to become damaged.
So sure, it's nice to think of God as the potter working with me, the clay, when I'm the clay that's become a vase that's almost finished. It's not so comfortable to think of myself as the clay that's still being beaten and formed into something He can actually work with. But it makes sense.
No one ever claims that Christianity is an easy road. Difficulties arise. Trials will come. And as hard as it may be to go through these things, God uses them to shape us and mold us into the men and women that He wants us to become.
I really don't have a good conclusion for all of this. But that's because I have no conclusion for what I'm going through yet. I guess there won't be a true conclusion to this. For that, I'm grateful. Because it means that God won't give up on me. He'll keep working on me. I can only hope He's able to turn me into something that's usable, not just a clump of dirt sitting on the wheel.