Just Like Fine China
The other day, as Danny and I were discussing a disappointing encounter we had just left and our [HIS] gracious response, he said something that has been resonating with me ever since!
Danny (paraphrase, in case its not exactly word for word):
"People say, 'Use me God,' but they want to be used as fine china, not the trash can. What they don't realize is that the same God Who made the china, made the trash can."
(Yes folks, these are the kinds of gems my husband drops in regular, every day conversation.)
Danny's comment made me revisit a topic I've been ruminating on since last year—this idea of being used by God.
To be frank, songs with words like,
"For Your glory I would do anything..." [Listen to it here] and
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me..." [Listen to it here]
- as beautiful, and worshipful, and wonderful as they are -
I cannot sing without a startlingly somber consciousness that holds a degree of sheer terror for me.
As the words form on my lips and leave my mouth my heart immediately fires off a series of questions to God:
"Do I really mean what I'm saying?" Lord knows I want to.
"But anything? GOD define anything. Like, for Your glory I would do any good that is required of me? Or are we talking anything like ANYTHING, even enduring the ugly and painful and downright uncomfortable stuff?"
"Wherever You would call me? Where exactly are you calling me to? Will I like it? How far outside my comfort zone are we talking?"
A Holy Nobody
Being "used" has a negative connotation almost everywhere, except inside western Christendom.
Outside the doors of the western church, "being used" is synonymous with words like exploited, taken advantage of, abused, misused, ill-treated, manipulated. And it's closely related to the ideas of an abuse of power, selfish manipulation to achieve an end, and suffering.
But in typical western church culture, being used by God seems to mean the opposite. In the minds of many people being used by God equates to an elevated platform, a prestigious title, and timely recognition.
But what if living like Jesus required being a holy nobody?
What if we knew that once we accepted Jesus as the Sovereign Ruler of our individual lives that this commitment would not come with any acknowledgement or accolades. But instead, would come with suffering, with being overlooked, with being mistreated and mishandled, with being abused and taken advantage of?
What if we knew that living a Christian life would ultimately mean submitting to being acted upon (manipulated) by God Himself to achieve an eternal end that's already been decided, one in which we get no say at all?
Would we still say, "sign me up!?"
Conditions and Big Buts
It's SO easy to spout off the three-word, three-syllable prayer, "Use me God."
But so many times when that prayer is prayed there are underlying and unspoken conditions. Conditions that come with big BUTs:
Use me God BUT only like fine china.
Use me God BUT only if it feels good.
Use me God BUT only if I'll be recognized.
Use me God BUT don't let it require sacrifice.
Use me God BUT only if it comes with a big platform and huge influence.
Use me God BUT only if my name can be great too.
What It Means To Be Used
I really appreciate the way Lauryn Hill so eloquently put it: [Start 16:44, End 17:37]
"In order to be used by God you have to really be used....Sometimes in order to be used you also have to be humiliated...You have to be kicked and beaten..."
And there's no greater example of that kind of commitment and dedication to being used by God than Jesus Christ. Who was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the punishment that would make way for us to be whole. And because of the lashes he took, we can be healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
He endured all that, and people still reject Him and deny Him. People still abuse His name while taking advantage of His grace.
No one else in history is like Him, yet we are the ones who want to hear, "You're irreplaceable."
We want to be handled delicately and treated like a collectible, just like fine china.
But sometimes what is called for isn't a fine porcelain set that only gets taken out on special occasions, sometimes a heavy duty trash can for daily use is needed.
God as Potter and Master Artisan
The good news is God is the ultimate Artisan. You may be treated like the trash can one day, and like a china collectible the next day.
Jeremiah 18:1-6, particularly verses 4-6, paints a most vivid picture of the assurance that God can rework us into any type of vessel that seems good to Him.
"The vessel he [the potter] was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done?' says the Lord. 'Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'"
[To make that passage more personal replace "O house of Israel" with your own name.]
Yes, you are a masterpiece, a wonderful display of God's genius!
But when God made us, He intended to use us as functional pieces not just decorative objects.
I pray that whether you find yourself being used as fine china or a trash can, you would remember that you were carefully and wonderfully made by the Master Artisan.
Grace + Peace,