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Posts tagged ‘assurance’

Living in Tents

“We know that if the tent that we live in on earth is torn down, we have a building from God.  It’s a house that isn’t handmade, which is eternal and located in heaven.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 CEB)

I have mixed feelings about Paul’s words to the church in Corinth.  Part of me wants to think of this much more temporally than necessary.  As someone who has struggled with being overweight throughout my adult life, there is a certain amount of reassurance in thinking that this body is temporary, and if it is “torn down” I’ll have a new body in heaven.  Of course, that doesn’t make me anxious to get to heaven any faster since I feel like I still have a lot left to live here on this earth!

Yet, the other part of me knows that this body is God’s gift to me, and I need to be a good steward of it by eating healthy, getting exercise, and living so that I honor it.  I have probably lost a thousand pounds over the course of my life so far, and each time I would put the weight back on and then some.  Fortunately, at this point in my life, I’m keeping the last batch of weight off fairly well, and even though I still have some to lose, I’m feeling pretty good about the maintenance.

I realize that my thoughts usually go to my weight when it comes to taking care of “my tent” but I think Paul’s letter is far more than just being healthy; in fact, it’s way beyond that.  When we read the passages around this particular one, we find reassurance of God’s presence and grace.  We find a reminder that we are raised with Christ into life, both in the present as well as in the future.  We find a reminder that we aren’t alone on this earthly journey, that God is with us in many different aspects of our lives and has sent companions to be with us on the journey.

We don’t have to be depressed or oppressed in spirit because “God has our back”!  I remember telling the children on the Sunday after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. that we as adults would do all that we can to protect them.  We can’t be everywhere, but we would work to try to keep them safe.  But no matter what happens to us physically, God has our souls, and no one can take that away from us.  God is with them in EVERYTHING, and we will be with God through eternity.

It’s hard for us even as adults to understand that, but I believe the message that Paul gives us through this letter is a reminder that we really are covered by God’s loving arms.  No matter what happens to us, whether illness, accidents, violence, physical challenges, or whatever it is, God really does “have our back.”  The more we practice believing that, the more we will be able to live it.

When have you recognized God’s presence during times of challenge?

How can you keep claiming and remembering that God’s presence is ALWAYS there?

In what ways will you practice your faith so that others can see that assurance and comfort in you?


Being a Cracked Pot

“Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”  Jeremiah 18:6b (NRSV)

Back a few years, I was the spiritual director on a spiritual renewal week-end, and one of my colleagues gave a talk on being imperfect.  She brought in a whole bunch of pottery – mostly small pitchers, bowls, and cups, and she talked about how they all have a purpose and function.  Then she picked up one pitcher that clearly had been broken and glued back together.

As she held it up in front of us, she said that it was her favorite, so when it broke, she didn’t have the heart to throw it away, so she glued it back together, and now it holds her pens and pencils on her desk in her office.  Instead of seeing it as worthless, she recognized its brokenness and found a new use for it.

In the Jeremiah 18:1-11 passage, we read about how God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to watch as the potter molded and shaped the clay into something useful.  The potter took a lump – actually, a blob – and started to shape it into something that had purpose, but the shaping didn’t go well, so the potter started over again by making the clay a blob and re-working it.

Israel had been called to be God’s people, and time after time they had turned away from God, ignoring the prophet’s call to repent and return to God.  Jeremiah’s message to the people of Israel was that they would be re-worked, re-molded by God so that they would once again be God’s faithful people.  They did have a choice, and often they ignored God’s call through the prophets.  Yet, God didn’t give up on them, didn’t abandon them, saw them as broken human beings who just needed to be shaped and guided back to the vision that God had for them.

So it is with us.  God sees our broken, sinful, hurting lives and finds ways to make something new out of what we might see as hopeless.  In the midst of pain, loss, hurt, anger, conflict, broken lives and broken relationships, God comes to say, “I will rework you, I will restore you.  You may look a little different, and your purpose or direction in life may change, but I will bring good out of bad and beauty out of the cracks. 

Are we ready to allow God to do that?  Are we willing to trust that God will guide us?  Will we listen and choose God over our own stubborn wills, thinking that we can handle this life, these hurts, these challenges on our own?  This passage is a reminder to us as a church that we have a calling:  one to offer Christ to the world, even though we are broken and glued back together vessels.  We are still God’s vessels, and God will work through us no matter how we look.  May it be so!

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