This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:1-4
If I were most honest, this morning I woke up not feeling the most beautiful. Clearly, when I wake up, there is nothing beautiful about that look, but I’m not referring to the beauty on the outside . . . I felt not so beautiful on the inside. I felt broken. And in my brokenness, the pieces of my life seemed scattered. Like a favorite vase on the shelf that had fallen and shattered to the floor, I saw my life in a million pieces and the impossible task of cleaning it up and even more, the impossible ability to put it all back together.
It’s important to know that there was nothing that occurred to cause me to wake in this state except the fact that I know the evil one is in the business of deceiving me in what I think about me, what others think about me and in what and whom I trust.
But in my brokenness, I collect the pieces . . . big, small, tiny and seemingly insignificant and pile them at the foot of His cross! Why would I even want to do this? There is a very good reason why! Because my God is the Potter! He is my (and your) Restorer! He makes ALL things NEW! He takes my brokenness and makes something beautiful. When you understand the grace that is ever so sufficient for even me, you will see Him. You will see this beauty, not without the seams from healing, the scars from the process, the marring. But praise Him — He didn’t stop there! He kept shaping, kept molding, kept forming — and He continues to make beauty!
Lord Jesus, you have made all things well! Today you have shown me the sufficiency of your grace for me in all things. Remind me of my brokenness every day! May I never live a moment without recognizing the position of your hands upon the sides of my life as it spins on the wheel. You’ve never let go, you’ve never stopped, you’ve never tossed the clay and started over! Thank you for the beauty of ashes that only comes from the refining fire of your Spirit!
by Mark Cruver
Filed under Beauty, Belief, Broken, Faith, Grace, Heal, Life, Love, Praise, Thinking of Me, Truth
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings . . . Psalm 17:8
I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means to be the apple of someone’s eye. Having an apple in one’s eye is a little bizarre and interesting at best. But we’ve used that phrase to describe the worth someone has to us as an individual, placing them in very high regard. So when David writes in prayer to God, “keep me as the apple of your eye” it affirms the immense worth and value to him by God.
David understood who he was and there was no question he understood the truth about what God thought of him. Likewise, God thinks the same about us all! We are accustomed to say — in fact, I am guilty of praying this just yesterday — how grateful I am that you (God) love me so much in spite of all of my junk. My junk equates me with my raggedness but it is important to understand, know and believe — especially never to confuse — that my raggedness does not make me worthless! It does not define me!
It’s been explained that seeing the image of myself in the eye of the another person requires a closeness most find uncomfortable. But when I apply this imagery to my relationship with God, it means that I can see myself reflected in the gaze of my Father! I am the apple of God’s eye!
God sees me with absolute clarity! From deep within, He sees and knows my junk — yours too! But this is not ALL He sees! Often it is all WE see of ourselves or all WE see of others. But God sees deeply and broadly — from the inside out. He sees potential, intent, ability — what will be, what has been and knows intricately what or who we will one day become.
As I continue to walk in His footsteps, walk in His Spirit, He calls to the surface from within, the goodness, greatness and beauty of Himself that only He can see in me so that one day it will become visible to all.
Lord Jesus, it is difficult standing so close to you that I can see my own reflection in the pupil of your eye. It makes me shiver at some level. But I know that you gaze upon me with immense worthiness and love. It is undeniably rich! May I live each day remembering that I am the apple of your eye and that though you know my junk, you know more who one day I will become! The work you started, may you continue to make complete!
by: Mark Cruver
inspired by: John Ortberg’s Love Beyond Reason
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
Not so many years ago, my daughter had for herself a sweet little orange-striped kitty. Had she been a boy, it would have been a real-life version of Calvin & Hobbes. Classic adventures and discoveries every inch of her existence and countless moments of conversation and questions with answers. It was beyond all else the most unique bond in our home. Without “Two-Sides” (that was kitty’s name), going to sleep was impossible as was going to grandma’s or heading out on vacation. Two-Sides went with us everywhere.
But as the days checked off the calendar and the whiskers on Two-Sides disappeared, the love my daughter had for her was still ever strong. It was not a love of youthfulness or beauty, for Two-Sides had grown quite ragged. Instead, the love my daughter loved Two-Sides with was a love that made Two-Sides beautiful.
It is not very different with me (and you)! To God we are all rag dolls. But we were not created ragged, for when God finished what He had fashioned in His own image He said with His own breath, “It is good!” He loves me (and you) and that does not change over time!
But over time, we have all become like rag dolls, so crooked from sin and guilt that it would only feel similarly familiar to be discarded, forgotten, left to my own demise. But no! God changed everything because of His love for me! Thank God my identity is not found in my raggedness, but instead in Christ who took my raggedness to the cross!
John Ortberg wrote in his book Love Beyond Reason:
“There is such a love, a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is a love beyond reason. This is the love of God. This is the love with which God loves you and me.”
by: Mark Cruver
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
Ever feel like your needs are minimized? For me, the one thing that is real beyond doubt is my pain, my hurt, my grief — they are important to me because they are real. And they are important to me because they are even more important to God. He never minimizes the degree of my stress, or hurt to justify my circumstances, nor does he compare my needs with those of someone else — He has met me in the midst of wherever I find myself, in my hurt, in my confusion, in my pain. But I wonder too, are my needs a far stretch for God’s grace to reach? Oh, absolutely — His grace covers — His grace is more than enough for me.
But the trouble comes when the abundance of His grace meets my idea of my needs. This creates a rather interesting dialogue. So I pray to God to release me from this pain. He replies . . . “Mark, it may not seem good to you and I know it hurts, but this pain is creating in you a new compassion.” I then pray that God would change my circumstances. He replies . . . “Mark, you are indeed in quite a pinch, but remember who is still on the Throne, trust me, I know the plans I have for you!” So then I ask why it is I feel so condemned by others to which He replies . . . “Mark, man condemns, but I have set you free! Remember, I chose you, I pursued you, I ransomed you and my glory fills you every day!”
Lord Jesus, I realize you are at work within me. You are working diligently to conform me further to your image and it isn’t very pretty! I don’t always understand your ways, but I trust them! Your ways stretch beyond my sight. Thank you for sharing with me the end of this story . . . to be like you!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
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From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Acts 17:26-28
I find these two things undeniably related. As a child of the King, they cannot exist exclusively independent from one another, yet, we prod through life as though His glory is somehow untouchable and our well-being is ours to obtain. Could it be that these two things are so intertwined that they, in a very un-human way, stirs the soul to trust in the largely strange pursuit of God for me.
It’s that which forms the basis of asking whether He really cares for me. Perhaps you even answered the question toward yourself without giving it a second thought, “Of course He does!” I do the same — each time I ask!
I think of Job and Jeremiah as well as the Disciples. Characters that faced a myriad of obstacles, trials, doubt, and mostly . . . God’s personal pursuit in the presence of His glory. Job cried out in pain and grief to question God (Job 38:2-3) and Jeremiah explodes toward God with His use of Him (Jeremiah 20:7-9), while the Disciples questioned Jesus in others wounds and crippling being ascribed to our sin and foolishness (John 9:1-7).
Nothing spells care more clearly than the willingness and patience of our God and His children questioning His presence and purpose for our lives. The pursuit of His people is far from passive and swells with His love and compassion. His gentleness and patience mixed with the power of His might and glory, together display the majesty of the Almighty God, my everlasting Father . . . the Prince of Peace!
Lord Jesus, this one is more than I can chew in a single bite. It is overwhelming at best. May I never stop questioning you, but may I never doubt your purposes nor your pursuit of me! I know, without question, you care for me — the depth is something my mind cannot measure. If only I knew and understood your heart more clearly!
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:16-17
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. Mark 15:21
Ever wonder whether or not you were where you should be or doing what you should be doing or going where you should be going? I can imagine most everyone has asked these questions of themselves at one time or another. And sometimes, after our experiences we second guess our purpose there. Why is this? Is it a lack of faith or a hole in our trust?
There was a man that the scripture tells us was just “passing through from the country.” Not much else is said for his purpose in Jerusalem, but it’s likely he was there to bring a sacrifice not realizing that which was going on at the time. And this man, observing the radical journey Christ was taking through the streets, being led to the Hill, by cracks of the Roman whips and shouts of hurt and pain from those whom He loved. Simon found himself in the right place at the right time.
Unlike anyone else to have ever lived on this earth, Simon from Cyrene actually carried the cross of Christ! It doesn’t make him any more holy by any means, but to have carried the cross for Christ must have been the most unbelievably symbolic moment of time. As I mentioned before, it is most likely Simon was there for his own purposes, but God chose him to escort THE Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the sins of all.
I would dare suggest that Simon would have preferred not to be the one to carry this cross. I might figure that he was wishing he was not standing where he was standing, or made eye contact with the Roman soldier that called him out. He may have even felt as though he was the one “helping” Jesus to the cross. The opportunity for doubt, shame, regret and wishing he had not been there at all was ever-so present. He might even had thought he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But God used Simon for the Glory of God and the Salvation of the World!
Lord Jesus, today is the anniversary of the day Simon carried your cross! We speak of how you carry our burdens and the weight of all sin hung with you on the cross that Simon carried for you! I’m in awe. It has shed a whole new light on the events of this day. May I be reminded often of your journey to the cross — for me — and the many times you demonstrate your love for me!
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. II Corinthians 4:11
It’s difficult to describe the depth of our pain to others. There are times when pain can show it’s character on our face, in our actions — in our voice. The screams of pain is universal. It has a different sound, a signature that pierces us all. From a thumb that finds its way beneath the blow of a hammer, or the pressure from an abscessed tooth — no one can deny how much those hurt. But the pain that hurts far deeper than any flesh wound, is the pain from brokenness.
Yet, somehow, in the midst of our painful circumstances our brokenness is coupled with the death of Jesus. Even in my most painful moments, I have cried outloud, “Why must I continue to be a witness of your death through this pain?” And without pause, He responds . . . “Because, Mark, it is necessary — then I will be revealed!”
Oh man! Could it be? Is it possible? That my brokenness will, or better — does, bring Him glory? Lord, I don’t know how this is possible, but one thing I do know — that you don’t abandon your people! As I’m reading your word you are blessing and speaking. I want to personalize it for me.
But I have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from others. I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. So, then, death is at work in me, but life is at work in me too. Therefore, I do not lose heart. Though outwardly I am wasting away, yet inwardly I am being renewed day by day. For my light and momentary troubles are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Corinthians 4:7-9,12,16-18
Filed under Belief, Faith, Truth