Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just A Lump of Clay

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
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

Its Saturday and I'm working on posts for the week. We were cleaning yesterday and I came across some old journals. One from when we first moved to Spokane.  In it I had written " I feel detached and kind of directionless and yet I believe I am here in this place and in this time in answer to a prayer that may even yet be unspoken. Yet, you Lord, in your infinite wisdom have positioned me here to meet some need. In the mean time I will lend my hand to what needs done. Trusting you will order and direct and bring people in and through our lives."  Dec 1, 2007

My journals are rarely in order. Usually I grab what ever notebook that has some blank pages. So in reading them I turn the page and I jump ahead to two years. "I have seen you do amazing things in peoples lives and in and through my own. Yet today I feel very small, very ordinary, very insignificant, un important - just a lump of clay. Ah but you say - just look what I can do with a lump of clay. I am happy to be your lump of clay. Whatever my part may be mundane or fine. I don't think it matters so much what I do or am used for but who I belong to." Aug ll, 2010

I read back over the things that the Lord was speaking to me then and I realize that the great gift of abiding near to him is that I know his voice. I don't have to struggle to hear him like I once did. He speaks very clearly. Since 2007 I have developed the habit of being daily found in his presence.
I read back and I am amazed by the profound things He was saying to me. In my journaling prayer I write about what is going on in my life, the things I'm excited about, or troubled by. I then listen to what the Lord has to say. Sometimes he speaks directly to my heart, other times he leads me to bible passages or to some book or reminds me of something through words of a song. Often it is a combination. It is a two way relationship and conversation.

"All of your ministry will come out of your time at my feet. Know that I am marking you - why you wonder. Because my people need to see. All too many invite me into their heart and lives and then go on with their plans and purposes. It is like the man who sets his goal to be married. Courts the girl and wins her and then go back to seeking wealth and prominence. They think some how the goal has been attained simply by marrying the girl. That is only the beginning. My people get things all backwards. They are busy building big churches and pursuing success. I tell you it is by time in my presence that anyone is able to sustain lasting fruitfulness in ministry."

Over and over I have written about being a lump of clay in His hands. During that time I went from just praying for the church to being on the board and then the chairman. I can tell you I never felt really qualified for any of it. My three years on the church leadership board ends this month. During it I have seen God take a dying church that was only inches from closing its doors to one that is being recognized because it dared to do something different. (We still have a long way to go)

 I remember so many times when I felt discouraged, and things looked beyond hopeless and how the Lord has met me on those places. He has given me the grace to stand when everything looked dark and impossible. He would tell me things, like prepare your fields even when there was no seeds to plant. He would tell me go speak this word to so in so, or lend your hand to this project. So I have spent my time pressing into the Lord and encouraging the people around me. I still feel like just a lump of clay. To measure my life by the worlds standards I fall very short.  I don't have a great job, we rent a tiny house and barely make ends meet each month. I have no great prominence or recognition. There is nothing all that remarkable about my life.  I suppose what is remarkable is that I can say that every day I can hear God's voice, every day I am given opportunities to be His hands, his feet, his voice to people who can't hear him at all. That does not mean that I'm some great prophet. I am His sheep, His lump of clay, His handmaiden, His ambassador. I am so far from perfect and often still feel discouraged. Long ago I decided that I would follow him in all my imperfection. That I would order my life in such a way that I could be available to do what ever He would have me do. I have got to say, I've gotten to do some really cool things, I've seen him heal, restore and set people free. Other people usually got the recognition and got to shine and I'm ok with that. My part is rarely something that could be put on a resume. I know there are people who would have given up on God's calling had I not been there at that right moment, to pray and encourage. Some have gone on to do great things. My goal has been to abide in Him and to be available to Him.

The Lord asked me back in 2007 or 2008  if I was willing to give up everything that the world calls success to make a difference for His kingdom. Not long after that he led us to this little, run down, pathetic, dying inner city church. The new pastor and his wife were both grumpy and sad about it being the only door of ministry that had opened to them. They had come from affluent churches to this dirt poor place, the pastor's grave yard. In their minds it was proof that they were failures. I have seen them both change so much. We all came here so broken and did not even know we were. God has used this place to make each of us in some way remarkable. Living stones in a spiritual house.  So now they are making these cool videos to tell the stories of this place. I have to laugh we have all come such a long long way and probably still have a very long way to go. Its important to celebrate and share the stories of where we have been. In the next bunch of posts I will be sharing some of these videos. I think you will enjoy them and they will stretch you a bit. To not just go to church but to actually be the church.

"Ah but you say - just look what I can do with a lump of clay."

"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

Dear Lord, Help us to be people of your presence. Help us be people who know your voice. Help us be people who are available for what ever you need done. Help us to become lights in our communities for your glory. 

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