the dropping of the other shoe

Today is an ordinary day, which is no surprise as these are ordinary times. Or I want to think they are, anyway. Oh sure, there has been a recent rumor or two lately, a rumbling of something ominous to come – always just out of sight, hovering in the background – unseen but still felt, although vaguely – more tenuous than tangible. I think this feeling used to be called “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Now this implies that one shoe has already dropped, and this is true. I remember clearly that day in mid-March 2020 when the first shoe fell. It fell with a thud and stopped us in our tracks. It too, was an ordinary day until the shoe fell and schools closed along with restaurants, gyms, businesses, churches, sporting events, concerts etc. The world shut down except for really big stores like Walmart and liquor stores. (I guess the virus could only spread in smaller grocery stores and didn’t even enter liquor stores at all)

Today, two and a half years later, as I look around the classroom, there is no reminder here of what we have so recently come through, save the occasional student wearing a mask, usually slipped down around their chin – a last visual vestige of the trauma that was thrust upon us all so suddenly and so completely that we could not catch our breath. (or was that because we were wearing masks?) Yes, they masked us, ensuring we could not breathe nor speak freely. The masks became silence’s symbol and fear’s announcement simultaneously, proclaiming – “be quiet and be afraid.” “Do not question the dictates, the science is settled!” we were told repeatedly.

No eating out – but those that issued the edicts did. No haircuts – but those that made this rule did. Don’t gather in large groups or even groups over ten – so no weddings, funerals, birthday parties – but our cities’ streets were full of groups over ten for months on end. We watched from our windows as we were told not to leave home. We were left to wait and to wonder – wonder “what comes next?” When can I go back to work? When can I go to the gym or church or eat out? When can I visit my family members and friends? When can I celebrate a birthday or a holiday with those I love? What started out as two weeks to stop the spread stretched into two years of various restrictions and predictions.

Though most restrictions have lifted or eased, predictions continue to abound. There are wars and rumors of wars. There are shortages and rumors of shortages to come. Climate change (formerly called “weather”) was supposed to have ended life on earth decades ago. We are still waiting for that shoe to drop, as it were, living under a constant heavy cloud (of CO2?) of daily dire predictions and ominous warnings. We are told to be vigilant for the next virus and to plan for the next pandemic. I’m not sure living always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always expecting something bad to happen, is the best way to live. I know that’s not how I want to live this life I’ve been gifted.

The good news is, I don’t have to live life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t have to shut the door, pull down the shades, huddle under the covers, and let the TV news be my link to the outside world and my connection to others, albeit a virtual connection, not a real one. You and I were created to live a life of freedom and that includes freedom from fear. Consider what 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us –

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

We may be living in dark times, but we don’t have to walk in darkness. We have Someone to light our way.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Those words encourage me when darkness seems to be ever increasing. I can know that Jesus’s presence is the light that extinguishes any and all darkness. My journey has felt pretty perilous these past couple of years. Globally and nationally, we were being told we were in a pandemic of death. On every TV news channel, a live “death count” ran at the bottom of the screen, continuously inching upward, always running, lest we forget to be afraid and leave our homes. We all must have felt collectively that we were in the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death” – a place to be greatly feared, right? Well, not according to King David who wrote this in Psalm 23 –

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)

There is a better way to live, a better way to walk in this world – fearless and free – free of fear, free to live the life my Heavenly Father is calling me to live for Him. Even though I have to walk through dark valleys, I don’t have to be afraid because God is present with me and has promised –

” ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Because of my Heavenly Father’s presence walking beside me, I don’t have to fear the evil that surrounds me as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His presence comforts me, allowing me to continue. I also receive His provision during my time in this dark, uncertain valley of death. In fact, my cup overflows! That’s what the Psalm says. That’s His promise. He prepares a feast for me right in the middle of the valley and anoints my head, marking me as His own. I have His assurance that He will never leave me and that I will live in His house, with Him forever.

Knowing all this means I do not need to spend my days living in fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can live with joy, confidence and hope because my Heavenly Father is Sovereign over the affairs of men. Jesus reminded His disciples of this when He told them,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

No matter when the other shoe drops, no matter how many more shoes drop – I can say with confidence

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

You and I, dear readers, can walk through this present day valley of the shadow of death without fear, experiencing God’s comfort, protection and provision as we walk through these days with hope and courage, knowing we do not walk through the valley alone.

sincerely, Grace Day

digital identities?

that’s what the article said, “we are moving toward digital identities,” further stating, “digital identities can help transform the future for billions of individuals, all over the world, enabling them to access new economic, political and social opportunities, while enjoying digital safety, privacy and other human rights.” (WEF Insight Report 2018) Well, that sounds good, I guess. If I receive a digital identity, my future will be transformed. Of course, “transformed” implies something positive, something good, something better. But what if that’s not the case? Who decides what “transformed” looks like? Is it better? and if so, “better” for who? – for everyone or for just a select few?

Even as I ponder the possibilities of this transformed future, it occurs to me that my future has already been transformed as have I, in preparation for it. It’s not a digital identity that makes this possible. It is my God-given identity which transforms me as I await the transformed future my Heavenly Father is preparing for me even now. I read about it in 1 Corinthians –

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” (1Corinthians 2:9)

A digital identity does not have any power to transform me, but my identity in Christ completely transforms me. 2 Corinthians 3:18 explains it this way saying –

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

So who am I? Where does my identity come from? A government or God? Governments use our fingerprints to identify us for good reason. Our fingerprints are unique to us alone, identifying us out of the billions of people on the earth. But government didn’t issue you or me our fingerprints. God did.

“”For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

My Creator, who knows every star in the universe by name, probably because He created each one, knows me by name too. In fact, He knows every hair on my head. My identity is known to Him because He created me. I am His handiwork. (Ephesians 2:10) He knows the way that I take and He watches over me.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

My God-given identity provides me with worth and security as His child.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

“The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:5-8)

Knowing that my Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe, is watching over my “comings and goings” twenty-four/seven is comforting to me, not creepy. That’s because He is good and His intentions towards me, as His child, are only good.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3)

Comfort, assurance, provision, peace, purpose, joy, hope – these gifts I receive as one whose identity is in Christ. You and I are created in the image of God – our identity is in Him – we are His image bearers.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) And as His image bearers, God blesses us –

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Since I already have a unique God-given identity, why do I need a digital identity? As I said earlier, it is comforting to me to know God is keeping track of me, but it is more than a little disconcerting to think that government would be doing this as a result of my new digital identity. In whose image would my digital identity be created?

I’m not sure I want my government or any government or any group in power to be “watching over” my comings and goings, what I buy, what I read, what I say, where I go – because I’m not really convinced that their plans are “to prosper me and not to harm me.” I’m happy with the unique identity my Creator gave me. My Heavenly Father never mistakes me for someone else. He knows my name, hears my voice, knows every hair on my head and never leaves nor forsakes me. I am not just a number to Him. I am not invisible to Him.

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:1-5)

I agree with King David, who wrote this Psalm, who then said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,”. Yes how miraculous, that we are known and loved personally by the One who created us! As one created in God’s image I have been given total freedom. I can follow His ways or not, worship Him or not, believe in Him or not, trust Him or put my trust in myself or someone or something else – the choices are mine to make. Our Creator, dear readers, created us as free beings. It is our own choices which often enslave us to other people or things.

Digital identities are supposed to make us freer by ushering in that “transformed future.” Ironically, they will allow us to be tracked and controlled by whoever is in power at the time. Our autonomy will be severely curtailed and we could be denied any number of goods and services based on our digital identity. A digital identity is data driven. You and I will be nameless, faceless – defined instead by the identity groups into which we fit or by the “boxes we check” ie. gender, age, skin color, education, religion, economic group, nationality – anything that stereotypes us as members of a particular grouping of people. With a digital identity, we are not known personally, nor seen as unique, but seen only as members of various intersecting groups. These groups can be marketed to but also can be controlled and manipulated to achieve the desired outcomes of those in power.

A digital identity is impersonal. It obscures our individual uniqueness, in favor of reducing each person to a data point, to a number to be dealt with but not a person to be known by name or on a personal, face to face level. We were created to be known by others and to know others personally. God fashioned us for relationship with Him and with each other. He says in Ezekiel 37:27,

“My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” I read the same thing in 2 Corinthians 6:16,

“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.’ ”

God desires a personal relationship with me and with you, not a digital one. He said He will live with us and walk among us. He knows our true identities because He gave them to us. We are not an intangible, digital identity to God. He knows us completely and has something wonderful in store for each one of us. We are not told what the “transformed future” brought to us by our digital identities will actually look like. We are left to wonder. However, here is a description of the “transformed future” God has in store for us because of our God-given identities in Him –

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ ” (Revelation 21:3-4)

that’s a future I look forward to, knowing that God is faithful to all His promises, – no digital ID required, just my God-given identity in Christ Jesus!

sincerely, Grace Day

burden bearing

No, it’s not an Olympic sport – nor is it a contest anyone wants to sign up for and yet we all find ourselves entered as participants simply by virtue of the fact that we are human. We were automatically enrolled without our consent. This is a contest no one wants to win. Although there are those who will let it be known they are carrying more weight than others. They are known as martyrs.

But for most of us, burden bearing is just something that we do, not because we choose to, but because it is an inescapable part of daily life. There is a quote I love that states, “Be kind, everyone is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about.” A similar quote by Ian MacLaren, says, “Be kind, everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” Why don’t I realize this? Maybe because the battles we are fighting and the burdens we are bearing are invisible to others. We take care to hide them from others, so our sorrows, pain, any hardship, loss, or need is kept concealed as we attempt to deal with our difficulties on our own.

As events unfold (we call that “life happening”) we often find our burdens getting heavier by the day, with no relief in sight. I’m guessing this is where the expression “he/she looks like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders” comes from. But we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. God has a better plan in mind. In Galatians 6:2 we read,

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Another translation says “carry each other’s burdens” – you get the idea. We are not weightlifters, we are burden bearers – burden bearers help others by walking alongside and shouldering some of the weight as they journey on together. This lightens the load and helps the one with the heavier burden to keep going. But how can I possibly do this for others when my own burdens are often too heavy for me to bear alone?

This is possible because I have One who offers to bear my burdens for me. In 1 Peter 5:7 I am told I can,

“Cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me.” Psalm 55:22 tells me the same thing saying,

“Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

As my Heavenly Father bears my burdens, lifting them gently from my shoulders into His capable hands, this lightens my load and frees me up to bear the burdens of others who are carrying heavy loads, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The job of a burden bearer is not easy, but it is essential. Life prepares us for this essential role well. I get plenty of practice bearing my own burdens, which makes me stronger and better able to offer assistance to others. And how wonderful to be able to share with my over burdened fellow travelers the good news that they too can cast their cares on their Creator who cares for them so completely that He will gladly take on their burdens. I take great comfort in these words when the weight of my burdens threatens to overwhelm me, and I find myself alone –

“Praise be to the Lord, to God my Savior, who daily bears my burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)

I will not collapse under the weight of the world because God is my burden bearer, just as He calls me to be a burden bearer for those around me who are struggling under heavy loads. And many there are who, though they never signed up to be weightlifters, are nonetheless currently carrying crushingly heavy loads while longing for relief. The texts I’ve received today bear witness to this fact even as they provide me the opportunity to be a burden bearer, a unique privilege which I don’t take lightly.

So as a burden bearer, I will pray. This is one way of “bearing one another’s burdens.” I will pray many things, I will pray –

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

and I will pray this –

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:9) and this –

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

praying burden bearing prayers – sincerely, Grace Day

safe and sorry

Are you thinking I got it wrong? You would be right if you are thinking about the saying “better safe than sorry” – implying we are either one or the other. But I beg to differ with this age old wisdom. While the old idiom implies that if you are safe or you play it safe, you will not be sorry, it is possible to be both safe and sorry at the same time. You see, sometimes safety comes at a very high price. And sometimes “safety” turns out not to be all that safe after all.

I was pondering this dilemma recently as I read about new technology that will be able to microchip children. Why? To keep them safe, of course. And since we all want to be safe, we should all get microchipped, right? In 1991, Chuck Colson predicted, “We are reaching the point where we will trade our freedoms for our personal safety.” Although he died in 2012, he would probably feel his prediction has come true, had he lived to experience these last two years of the pandemic.

So much was done to keep us “safe.” We were locked down, locked in, masked, distanced, isolated and vaccinated – all in the name of safety. We couldn’t be trusted to make good decisions for ourselves, so our government made those decisions for us. They decided who was essential and who wasn’t, who could have a funeral or a wedding or work out or eat out or have family over or be with a loved one in the hospital – the answer was no one could do any of those things. Now I know that our government normally doesn’t have the power or our permission to make those decisions for us, but an emergency was declared and apparently in an emergency we give our decision making power to the government. Then the question becomes, when and how do we get it back? Assuming we ever get it back?

But at least we were safe right? Well, actually the lockdowns didn’t protect us from the virus but they did hurt us in all kinds of ways. Lost work, lost wages, lost businesses, lost learning, anxiety and depression resulting from the isolation, increases in alcohol and drug addiction, suicide and illness due to lack of treatment. A high price to pay for being kept safe from the virus. Turns out, the vaccine hasn’t kept us safe from the virus either, but it has caused all kinds of unnecessary harm, including death, myocarditis, blood clots etc. to otherwise healthy people. Many I know are now sorry – they followed the rules and played it safe – now they realize they are not safe, but they are sorry.

Trading my freedom for my safety? Makes me think of a quote from C.S. Lewis’s story, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in which the question was asked about Aslan, the lion – “Is he safe?” The answer? “Of course he’s not safe, but he’s good!” There are things more important, more valuable, more enduring than mere safety.

The pilgrims must have believed this. I’m glad safety wasn’t their top priority when they left the comfort of civilization in England and set sail at great personal peril for the New World. If they survived the voyage, they still needed to face and figure out how to survive all the dangers in this new, unsettled land with no homes, no food – they left safety behind in pursuit of freedom – in particular, religious freedom.

Those who moved continually west across our country, left the safety of the land they had already settled in favor of unknown possibilities of a better life which they prized above their safety. I’m thankful our founders prized freedom over their own safety when they broke away from being subjects of the crown/king and at great personal cost, created a new nation complete with a Constitution that guarantees, not safety, but freedom and opportunity for every individual. I’m grateful for each and every person who fought to end slavery in this country, at great personal sacrifice, rather than continue to turn a blind eye and remain safe in their silence. Their choice to fight was not safe, but it was good.

Choosing to follow Jesus Christ is the same – it has never been the “safe” choice – eleven of the twelve disciples were killed for following where their faith in Jesus led them and today around the world, many know if they choose Jesus, it puts their lives in danger from that day forward. It is not the safe choice, but it is the good choice. Some things are more important than personal safety, like faith and freedom, the freedom to live out one’s faith. Those that left us this legacy of faith and freedom, did not put their own personal safety above their higher callings to God and country. How grateful I am to be an inheritor of the legacy they left to us all. Will we now forfeit this legacy because we prefer to be safe rather than free?

Our founders had faith in Someone greater than themselves and believed in something bigger than themselves – which is made clear in our founding documents and their early writings. Following Christ and walking by faith is not for wimps – it requires great courage. I think today we are asking ourselves the wrong question. We don’t need to know if someone or something is the safe way or the safe choice – we need to know if it is the right way, the right choice, if it is good, if it is a God honoring course of action – these will always come with risks – in the past, physical death, at the moment being “cancelled” but maybe tomorrow actual death will replace social media ostracization, job loss, loss of power, security and comfort in this current culture.

It’s time we started living our lives in this real, God created world, instead of a virtual world where we don’t know what’s real and what’s not. People can be controlled much more easily virtually than in reality, real time and real space. Safety at the expense of freedom? I think not! I’m with the guy who said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” (Patrick Henry) – and even more with the One who said “Take up your cross and follow Me.” He isn’t safe, but He is most certainly good. Following Him in faith is not for the faint of heart, it is for us who are brave enough to pursue truth, knowing eventually, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Our country is built on the sacrifices of those who did not put their personal safety above the greater good of a country where faith and freedom can flourish. We are currently told we must accept the loss of certain personal freedoms in the name of safety. Time for us to speak up before we become so “safe” that we are no longer free to do anything (worship, keep and bear arms, assemble, travel unrestricted, own our own homes and businesses, speak and write freely) or to make any health, personal, professional etc. decisions for ourselves.

Ironically, even our Creator leaves all decisions to us, whether to follow Him or not – pursue His ways or our ways. God gives us freedom of choice in all things. Why would we hand our God given freedoms over to government?

Lord, thank You that in You there is freedom and eternal life. You are not safe (by the world’s standards) but You alone are good. (” ‘Why do you call Me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’ ” Mark 10:18)

I can trust You with my life, and I do. I trust in You, not in schemes of man. Help me to be brave enough to choose freedom in You over the temporary safety the current culture offers if only I will look the other way, keep silent, and go along with those who want to impose their will on me “for my own good and the good of the nation.” May I sacrifice my safety now, so that my children can have a future of freedom and faith in You. You are not safe – but You alone are good.

If I choose safety over You, Lord, – in the end, I will be neither safe nor free, but I will be sorry.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ ” (Isaiah 6:8)

not safe – but good! not safe – but free!

sincerely, Grace Day

I have a plan – But God!

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Are you a planner like me? I like to make a plan and stick to it. I guess it gives me a feeling of control over my life. It’s a feeling that is based on illusion, but still a feeling that I seek to experience on a daily basis. However, pursuing this goal of control over my life proves as elusive as the illusion itself, which is that me being in control of my life is actually possible.

Turns out, others share my angst. In his poem, “To A Mouse”, Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, wrote this – “The best laid plans of mice and men can still go wrong” or “often go awry.” Actually, that is the translation. The original words, written in 1785 read, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft a-gley.” Our words have changed some over the past two-hundred thirty-seven years it seems, but the human condition continues in its constant state. “There is nothing new under the sun”, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, long before Burns wrote his poem or Steinbeck wrote his book entitled, “of Mice and Men”, referencing the Burns poem.

There’s a story in the New Testament about four men and a paralytic who had a plan. They executed their plan pretty well, achieving success. Still, as events unfolded, they couldn’t have planned for what they ultimately received, which was more, much more than they had desired for themselves or their friend initially. Their plan was to get their friend an audience with Jesus, because they believed that Jesus could heal their friend, freeing him from his paralysis. So they made a plan to carry their friend on his mat to the place where Jesus was. Still, “the best laid plans . . . often go awry” and that’s just what happened to the four friends and the paralytic on the mat.

When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching “So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door . . . Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.” (Mark 2:2-4)

So they made a new plan because of the crowd of people. Their old plan hadn’t included roof walking and demolition – but now they had a new plan, which involved going up on a roof, cutting a hole in said roof big enough to lower their friend on the mat through it and then getting their paralyzed friend lowered through the hole they had just created, into the very presence of Jesus. This they accomplished. Their friend was now face to face with Jesus. But what happened next wasn’t what they expected to happen because it wasn’t a part of their plan for their friend.

Their plan was that their friend would be healed and walk again. But Jesus had other plans. The first words out of Jesus’s mouth were, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” What? Couldn’t Jesus see the condition of their friend and understand he needed a physical healing, allowing him to walk again? What good were these words of Jesus? There must have been stunned silence in that crowded room following Jesus’s words to the paralytic. Those present held their breath, waiting to see what would happen next.

Now among those present were Pharisees and teachers of the law. Their response to what Jesus said? “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This is what they were thinking and Jesus knew it. Jesus responded saying,

“Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ” Next we read –

“He (Jesus) said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ ” (Mark 2:7-12)

Wow! Jesus is revealed for who He is – God’s Son, the promised Messiah, with the power and authority to forgive sins, the people present end up praising God, the paralytic has his sins forgiven AND he also receives the physical healing he had long desired, which is why his friends brought him to Jesus in the first place. The paralytic received so much more from Jesus than he asked for that day. He wanted physical healing. He was given spiritual healing as well. The paralytic came for something temporal and received something eternal, not instead, but in addition! – forgiveness of his sins, a pardon from God, granting him eternal life! He asked so little of God when God desired to give him so much more than he ever thought possible.

I guess I do that too. Like the paralytic, I believe God for too little, not too much. “I have not because I ask not.” I forget that God – “is able to do immeasurably more than all we (I) ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (me).” (Ephesians 3:20)

I always have a plan, but I need to remember that God always has a better plan for me. I have a plan – BUT GOD!

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Hope, what a priceless gift and how hard to come by on my own and in this troubled world. Hope sustains in the darkest of times, hope makes all things bearable because it is the promise of brighter, better times to come. That’s the “future” spoken of here in Jeremiah, the future that God wants to give me – eternity with Him.

Yes, I have a plan – BUT GOD has a better one! I just need to –

“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I may have a plan – BUT GOD – His ways will win out.

“Many are the plans in a man’s (my) heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)

I’m glad those words from Proverbs are true. I’m grateful that it’s not my plans, BUT GOD’S purposes that prevail. My Heavenly Father saves me from my own plans time after time.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Better I follow God’s ways than my plans.

“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make straight Your way before me.” (Psalm 5:8)

sincerely, Grace Day

a second wind

It’s one of those days. I want to run. I want to fly, to soar. But I can’t even put one foot in front of the other without collapsing in complete exhaustion. I need to be sprinting, but I’m not even walking. My feet feel glued to the ground, unable to move. Is this what the expression “feet of clay” refers to? But it’s not just my feet that feel heavy today – it’s my heart, my mind and my spirit. This is an overall weariness I’m experiencing and it has caught me quite unawares.

Maybe I didn’t realize how much I’ve been carrying around. I’ve allowed it to accumulate over time. Eventually, it all becomes too much to bear and I find myself crushed under the weight of the cares of the world, unable to move forward. What to do? These words of the psalmist come to mind – seems like he might have felt like I do now when he said,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. . . . The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your (my) coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

The psalmist was weary, but when he looked up to see God’s creation surrounding him, he was reminded of God’s watchful care over him at all times. I am too. Guess I need to look up more often when I am down. Just seeing the sunrise this morning, reminded me of God’s inescapable presence presiding over all things. I don’t have to carry the weight of the world around with me, God is already carrying it easily for all of us, including me. When I forget this, I end up carrying needless burdens with me as I run my race. No wonder I am weary and worn out. I need to take my Heavenly Father up on His gracious offer every day, you know the one where He invited me to –

“Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Other translations say I can give God my “worries” or “anxieties” but you get the picture – the things that weigh me down, I can give to God. He has invited me to do this so that I can run the race marked out for me, free from these added burdens. It’s not that there isn’t plenty for me to be worried or anxious about these days. In fact, it seems to me there is an overabundance of things that could concern or worry me. But my Heavenly Father is saying to me, “I’ve got this! You don’t have to be anxious, My child.” He also reassures me saying –

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Do I believe Him? Am I willing to surrender all of my fears and anxieties, the things that are weighing me down and making me so weary, am I willing to hand all these wearisome burdens over to His sovereignty? If I could trust Him with my cares, my load would be lighter and I bet I could finally run this race with the gracefulness, the lightness of foot, (and of heart and spirit) the purpose, the power and the joy with which I was meant to run this race all along.

Today I am feeling weighed down, enveloped by an overwhelming weariness. Then I read these words from Isaiah 40:28-31 –

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. . . . those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

There it is – the promise from my Heavenly Father that I need to receive today. “He gives strength to the weary” – that’s me! “increases the power of the weak” – that’s me too! When I accept His invitation to cast all my cares on Him and when I put my hope in Him alone – a miracle occurs! The weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders and my weariness dissipates as if it had never been. No longer heavy of foot or heart or mind or spirit, I find that I can not only walk, but run – and not only can I run but I can soar – my spirit has been given wings, the wings of hope – a gift God alone gives to those who trust in Him.

thank You, Lord, for today’s miracle – You took all my cares upon Yourself, setting me free to walk, to run, to soar for You – and to finish this race strong, as I run it with the strength You give me moment by moment until the race is won.

sincerely, Grace Day

the passing of the baton

Life is often referred to as a race. In this culture I often hear it called the “rat race.” I assume that refers to the fast pace of living and working and trying to “get ahead” by outworking and outrunning the competition. (the competition being the other rats/people) I recently wrote about this “life race” in a post entitled, “the last leg”, in which I contemplated finishing this earthly race. At any rate, this race is filled with transitions, not the least of which is the handing off of the baton – the most vital transition in this race we run.

Today I realize that I need to add something to my “the last leg” post. Why? Because even though I am on the last leg of my race and will soon cross the finish line – that is the end of my race but it is not the end of the race. Why not? Because this race of the human race is a relay race and when I finish my leg of the race, the race continues on with new runners bearing the batons they received from the hands of previous runners. Each generation runs its leg of the race and then passes the baton on to the next generation. Some generations get better batons than others, I think. Which is to say, some generations are left a better legacy perhaps.

The runners must coexist for a time together in the same space in order to transfer the baton from the finishing runner to the one who will carry it forward into the future. In a track meet, this space is called the exchange zone or changeover box, and it is twenty meters long. In the grand scheme of things, this is only a short, shared space in which to complete the transfer or the handing off of the baton.

I wish my exchange zone could have been longer with those who passed the baton on to me. I did share this space for a good amount of time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and parents. But as it turns out, it wasn’t nearly long enough. I would have liked a longer lasting exchange zone. I wasn’t ready to be left alone with the baton, but here I am anyway. There are still many things I would like to ask my mom, many things I would like to talk over with her before she would fully leave the baton in my charge.

But time marches on and the exchange zone comes to an end. As a receiving runner, I leave the exchange zone and run on, baton in hand. When next I enter the exchange zone, I am no longer the receiving runner – I am now the runner handing off the baton to those sharing this brief space with me before I fully release my baton into their charge. Perhaps they will be more ready than I was to fully receive it and to run on alone. I can only hope they will guard it with all diligence as they run their race as receiving runners – runners who will all too soon transition into giving runners, passing on what was entrusted to them during their first brief time in the exchange zone.

When they enter the exchange zone again, it will be to put the baton into the hands of the next generation – a baton they have inherited, carried through trial and trouble, guarded zealously, nurtured, and grown – a baton now ready to be handed off to the next generation.

At this point, I should clarify something. I don’t run alone in the sense that there are others running this race of life simultaneously with me – a whole generation to be exact. But we each carry our own baton, and we are each responsible for transporting it safely through the race we are running, and for carrying it confidently into the exchange zone, where the receiving runners of the next generation are anxiously awaiting our arrival.

The baton is precious and as all runners know, must not be dropped or left behind. It must be transferred securely from one runner’s hand into the hand of the new runner, who will carry it forward, taking care to hand it off safely to the next runner when the time comes, who will also continue to carry the baton forward. We each have a part in this relay race that is life. Luke summed it up well when he said this –

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)

“things handed down to us” – the baton entrusted to us to carry for a short while and then to hand down to the next generation.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

The baton of faith is being carried and handed off from one generation to the next generation – each one running their part in the relay race – preserving the baton, presenting it unchanged to the waiting runners who will continue to carry it forward. This has been going on for thousands of years. I read in Isaiah –

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ” (Isaiah 52:7)

Can you picture it? – the feet of faithful runners, carrying the baton containing the Good News with them wherever they go, until their race is run and they hand the baton of faith over to the next generation. In the race of life, the passing of the baton is even more crucial than in a relay race at a track meet. In a relay race, if the baton is dropped, the team is disqualified and they lose the race. In the race of life, if the baton is dropped, the message of salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus, is not carried forward into the next generation, resulting in disqualification and death. We dare not drop the baton. Paul talks about this in his letter to the church at Corinth, saying –

“Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; . . . No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)

The baton we carry is the Good News, the message of God’s love, forgiveness and salvation unto eternal life. It is a message of peace, of joy, of healing and of hope. The world has always been and it is today, in desperate need of all these things. We dare not fail to pass the baton on to the waiting generation. When my race is finished, I want to be able to say along with the apostle Paul –

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

the running of this race, the keeping of the faith, the passing of the baton – we are each one charged with this sacred calling, therefore – “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

sincerely, Grace Day

transitions and transformations

I could say life is full of transitions and it is, but perhaps it is more accurate to say that life is transition. By definition living things are perpetually growing and changing. As human beings, we participate in this continuous cycle of change and growth, whether we like it or not. Sometimes I am eager to move on, to transition to something new. At other times I would like to hold on to where and who I am at the moment, if it is particularly pleasant or pleasing or peaceful or purposeful. But I don’t get to choose. None of us do.

Time continues to push forward, forcing me to face each transition she brings to me. I find that I am transformed in the process of transitioning – which is that growth and change that all living things experience. The natural world that surrounds us is full of transitions and transformations. The seasons are continually cycling one after the other, so reassuring as I face the changes life brings.

Every time a season changes, the earth is transformed right before my eyes. Of course it is gradual, but the contrast is stunning nonetheless. When the humid, lush green of summer turns into the vibrant colors and cool air of fall, the transformation is complete. For a moment. Then fall’s full of color branches give way to winter’s barren beauty amid a frozen, still, silence. Everything sleeps under a blanket of white, until spring sun should summon flowers and foliage from the ground, covering everything in delicate hues that will later deepen into summer’s deepest greenery.

Every season is beautiful in its own way and time. And yet the seasons are never still, never satisfied I guess, with the perfection they have already achieved. Instead, they continue gradually transitioning, transforming imperceptibly until they yield a result that is nothing short of stunning.

At this point, the caterpillar comes to mind when considering dramatic transitions and transformations. Who would ever suspect what the caterpillar is up to when it creates a cocoon for itself and disappears into its darkness? Something so miraculous takes place during that time in the dark, that the next time we see the caterpillar, it is now a colorful, winged creature gracing our garden with the beauty of its flight. That is one total transformation!

Tadpoles transform into frogs. Frogs transform into handsome princes if kissed by the right fair maiden. Ok, that last one is a myth of fairy tale variety, but the real transformations we see in nature are no less dramatic. Seeds planted in the ground turn into food bearing plants, beautiful flowers, trees etc. From an acorn buried beneath the soil, springs a tall, imposing oak tree. I’d say that acorn was totally transformed.

I want to be totally transformed, too. In our culture we call that a “makeover.” What woman doesn’t want at times that magical makeover that changes hair, makeup, clothes and so forth to achieve a new look? But do I really believe that the right new pair of fabulous shoes will totally change my life? Judging by all the shoes in my closet, I must have believed the allure of this promise numerous times, only to discover each time that it is a myth. Which is another way of saying, I believed the lie. I should have known better. After all, Romans 12:2 tells me clearly,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

My wish is not to conform but to be transformed – not to conform to some arbitrary external standard, (which is why the “makeover” has no power to transform – it is external only) but to be transformed from the inside out. This is necessary because for true transformation to take place, it must originate on the inside and work its way out. What has taken place in secret, out of sight, eventually reveals itself as the transformation continues to completion, like the butterfly emerging at long last from its cocoon. But there’s something else.

I can conform myself. I can imitate, adapt, take on the look of and the customs of the culture in which I find myself, much like a chameleon changes color as it moves from place to place in order to blend in with its surroundings. But I can’t transform myself – I have to be transformed by something or someone greater than myself. This must be why King David said in Psalm 51:10,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

David knew he couldn’t clean up his own heart. He was powerless to do so. He needed God, the Maker of his heart, to do that for him. Likewise, I can’t transform myself. I need my Heavenly Father to do that transforming work in me. Philippians 2:13 assures me that this is exactly what God is doing in me –

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

God is at work in me, transforming me on the inside, working in secret, as He does with the seeds under the soil until their transformation is complete and they spring up ready to blossom and bear fruit in their season. I don’t have to worry when the transformation process seems to be taking longer than I would like. God is still working on me. In fact, the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians this –

“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

I’m reassured that my transformation is still going on, because God is the one doing the work and He is going to complete it! I read in 2 Corinthians 5:17 –

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

This inner transformation has some outward results. One of those I read about in 2 Corinthians 5:15 –

“that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

This process of transition and transformation seems to me to happen slowly, so slow that at times it is almost imperceptible. I remember when I first began serving as a person people could pray with after the church service. I was so nervous that I found myself relieved when no one came requesting prayer those first few Sundays I was on duty. Several Sundays later, when no one came requesting prayer, I realized to my own surprise, that I was quite disappointed at not having the opportunity to pray for and with someone else. Transformation had occurred. God had taken away my fear and replaced it with joy at being given the opportunity and the privilege to pray for and with other people. God had done this work of transformation in me in spite of my fear and anxiety. All I had to do, was to be obedient, to keep showing up week after week.

God is doing this secret, silent work of inner transformation in you and in me, slowly, steadily until – well until this happens –

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Yes, dear readers, you and I are going to emerge as beautiful butterflies when our Heavenly Father finishes His transforming work inside of us. We may have to spend time in a dark cocoon or walk through some fiery trials, (like pottery in the kiln) but God is faithful to finish His transforming work in each one of us. Job believed this, despite his overwhelming trials and suffering, Job had this to say –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

Job knew God’s transforming work in him, would leave him like gold, a very valuable, precious metal both then and now. This is what our transformations are achieving for us – that new life in Christ.

“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

new life – that’s total transformation!

sincerely, Grace Day

ghosts of games past

It is an unlikely sight – surprising, surreal and incongruous, that is to say, out of place in this setting, which is an inner city public high school. I have worked in this high school almost every school day for the past three years, but I had never seen this before. That’s because I have never subbed in P.E. before today, but today I did and today we were not in the classroom. Instead, we were outside on the school football field. Now there is a uniformity to most high school football fields, which is to say they all look alike.

But that is not the case for the field on which I found myself in the still of the early morning with a class of high school students who were anything but still. (they were not supposed to be still, they were supposed to be walking the track and getting some exercise) The field and the track around it looked like any other high school stadium currently in use. It was the bleachers or stands where the spectators would sit that caught my attention and held it. So much so that I am still thinking about the out of place, decaying and yet strangely beautiful sight the bleachers presented.

It is at this point that I wish I was technically competent enough to take a picture of what I am describing to you and include said picture with this post. Sadly, I’m not, therefore I can’t. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if I could show you a picture, there would be no need for me to write this post. But back to the bleachers. Now as far as I know, bleachers aren’t typically known for their beauty. I’ve never paid any attention to bleachers before, beyond their utilitarian use of providing me a seat from which I can watch whatever event it is that I have come to watch.

So you can imagine my surprise when the sight of these bleachers across the stadium from me kind of took my breath away – probably because I didn’t expect to encounter something extraordinary on this very ordinary day. Maybe it was because these bleachers seemed so out of place in this current day high school football stadium. I felt as though I’d stepped into the past or that I was visiting an historical site of ancient ruins in some European country. The contrast of the past displayed in this present day setting caught my attention, then kept me captive, inviting me to ponder the past and to imagine what went on here in this stadium long before today. I guess that’s what it means to be captivated.

Well, I was definitely captivated when I encountered the sight of these “ancient ruins” sitting in the midst of a modern day inner city public high school. I learned that this school was built in 1927 and the gym added in 1938. I haven’t found anything that tells me when the stadium was built, but I am guessing maybe when they built the gym, they built the stadium. That would make sense. If this is true, then these bleachers are eighty-four years old. That explains a lot.

They are white stone or concrete, solid, no spaces, rising up as bleachers do along one side of the football field. They are crumbling in places but what is most conspicuous is the greenery growing randomly in rows along the cement seats of some of the bleachers – like leafy green spectators waiting expectantly for a game to begin – this lush green growth, life springing up out of the long lifeless concrete, is so out of place that it caught me quite off guard. The scene is more reminiscent of a botanical garden than a sports arena, with green leaves springing up from, filling and spilling over many of the otherwise vacant seats in the stands – all this green growth giving the once functional bleachers the aura of an ancient ruin.

Part of the surprise is that no one planted anything here. No one plants seeds in cement, but in soil. Still, life has grown out of the crevices and cracks in the crumbling concrete of these bleachers. The bleachers no longer support people sitting on them. Now they are providing a place for a lot of random vegetation to take root, allowing various plants and weeds to decorate these formerly barren bleachers in multiple shades of green. (the color of life) The stands are once again filling up, this time not with people but with living, growing plants.

The unexpected beauty of these bleachers is a blessing to me today – a message and a reminder that beauty surrounds me no matter where my day takes me, even to an old, run down, inner city football field. But I will miss it if my eyes are not open to recognize something beautiful when it presents itself. New life coming right out of crumbling concrete. That’s a metaphor I don’t want to miss.

God does the same thing for me and for you. He brings new life to old bodies. Our earthly bodies are slowly deteriorating over time just like those old football bleachers. BUT GOD – (yes, it’s a BUT GOD post too) –

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

My Heavenly Father is continually bringing life out of my crumbling, decaying state. In fact, Paul writes in Romans 8:11 –

“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”

Today, these stony, leafy bleachers reminded me that God brings life out of even discarded, forgotten, stony hearts and that God –

“makes everything beautiful in its time.” – even old football bleachers, no longer in use (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God can do the same for you and me, dear readers – He can make something beautiful of our lives when we allow Him in to do the miraculous work He longs to do in each of us –

sincerely, Grace Day

feeling the fragileness of my frame

“As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)

Some translations say “He knows our frame” – which makes perfect sense because He is the One who formed my frame in the first place – He knows full well what I am made of, which apparently is dust.

“the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

So the fact that I’ve been feeling a little dusty lately, shouldn’t really be all that surprising to me. It’s true. I’m feeling a little dusty these days – weak, fragile, crumbling, falling apart – like any puff of wind, or even a gentle breeze might blow me away at any moment – into a million pieces, disintegrated and dispersed by that same wind across the air to a million different places. (this gives new meaning to the phrase “being spread too thin”)

I dare not take the advice of the age old saying, “pick yourself up and dust yourself off.” If I dusted myself off, I would dust myself into invisibility, being wholly made of dust and all. There would be nothing left. Dust is easily dispersed because there is nothing holding it together. Must be why I’ve been feeling particularly parched lately, as well. A little water would do wonders for my dusty self right about now. In fact, water turns dust into soil and soil is something substantial – strong enough to hold roots and grow life.

Well watered soil isn’t blown every which way like dust is. But where can I find enough water to turn the dusty desert that is me into well watered, substantial, life supporting soil and keep it that way? I find the answer contained in a conversation Jesus had one day at a well where He spoke with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. We pick up their conversation here –

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ” (John 4:13-14)

This sounds like the answer to my dustiness problem. Water would definitely help me hold it together or more aptly, hold myself together, instead of being blown apart and blown away by every breeze and every windy storm in life. I really want to hold it together and stand firm, but these are tough times we live in, capable of turning anyone into dust if they don’t have access to water to refresh and sustain themselves. But Jesus tells me that I do have access – I have access to Him twenty-four/seven and He is the Living Water.

Jesus is the reason I don’t need to worry about falling apart and being blown away like the desert dust that I am. Colossians 1:15-17 tells me this about Jesus –

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

It is that last line I find especially reassuring – “in Him all things hold together.” I’m so glad that “all things” includes me! My Heavenly Father “remembers that I am dust” and because He knows I am dust, He, Himself holds me together. He knows that I can’t hold myself together. I need His living water.

What is really unexpected is that even though I am formed from “the dust of the ground,” something considered so ordinary, I am “wonderfully and fearfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Only God can make something living and wonderful out of dead dust. But He did and He does. He made human beings and He made us in His image. It’s what God put inside of us that makes all the difference. Genesis 2:7 tells us God “breathed the breath of life into the man and the man became a living being.”

And that’s not all. God puts something else within us humans that brings us to life, just like when God breathed that first breath into Adam. God fills us with His Holy Spirit, if we ask Him to do this. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:7 –

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Our bodies are the jars of clay or earthen vessels, as another translation says, and the treasure is God’s Holy Spirit. This is not what we do. We tend to put our “treasures”, namely anything expensive that we value, in special places. We have ornate china cabinets to display prized dishes and fancy jewelry boxes in which we keep our most precious jewelry. We keep valuable art in museums, behind glass, in climate-controlled rooms. But God allows us to be the containers and carriers of Himself, ensuring His presence with us and in the world.

Imagine it. The eternal carried inside the temporal. The sacred dwelling within the sinful. The infinite taking up residence within the finite. That’s us! That’s you and that’s me. We are jars of clay carrying God’s gift of His Holy Spirit within us. Unfathomable! But He formed us for just such a purpose – that we would become carriers of His divine light into this dark world.

Can you believe it? What was God thinking? – making us out of dust and then expecting us to be suitable carriers of the Divine? Yes, it’s surprising to realize that when God was fashioning you and me out of the earth’s dust, He was forming us to be the receptacles of His presence! That was His intention all along. You would think He would have chosen a better medium than dirt – gold or silver, precious gem stones, something impressive befitting His majesty. But He chose earth as we are from the Earth.

Interesting that clay is a type of soil. So “jars of clay” and “earthen vessels” are the same thing. When the Bible talks about us being the clay and our Creator God being the Potter, it connects each of us with the original creation of the human race, where God forms and fashions us with His own hands, making us lovingly in His image. Our creation was deeply personal. God didn’t just speak us into existence – He labored over us as the potter labors over the clay, until the desired result was achieved.

Perfection! Until sin entered into the picture. Clay can get really dusty when it begins to dry out. It disintegrates and disperses in millions of particles of dust unless water can be found to once again make the clay soft and malleable, all those particles holding together so the Potter can work His will on the clay and bring about something beautiful. If we get separated from the Living Water Jesus offers us, we dry out, turn to dust and the wind blows us wherever it will.

But God remembers that we are dust and He continues to water us so that we will not blow away but hold together in His hands, giving Him the opportunity to continue to form and fashion us in the image of His Son, Jesus. When I’m feeling a little too dusty, as if I’m turning into dust and falling apart, I need to remember that my Heavenly Father will supply me with His living water. This will restore me as He continues to work His good and perfect and pleasing will in my life in spite of all the dust. I’m under constant construction, and as we all know, construction sites are full of dust, as are potters’ studios. But when the dust settles, something beautiful is revealed.

So will it be for those in the Potter’s hands. If my life is a little dusty right now, God will send rain to settle the dust and hold together my soil/clay so that He can continue working on me until I am conformed to the image of Christ. Until the day comes that Ecclesiastes speaks of saying –

“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) This is also what God told Adam in Genesis 3:19 when He said –

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

However, that is NOT the end of the story. BUT GOD! (and you thought this wasn’t even a BUT GOD post) God has other plans for you and for me.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies (those jars of clay/earthen vessels) so that they will be like His glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

quick confession – I added the words in parenthesis above.

So I will no longer have a dust problem, no longer have to worry about crumbling away, drying up or drying out – God will sustain my physical body until I no longer need it and then I get to, we all get to, trade up for a better model!

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42–44)

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ” (Revelation 21:5)

Thank You, Lord, for my dusty earthly body, perfectly formed and fashioned by You and perfectly made for life on this earth. Thank You, too, for the promise of that new and imperishable body You have purposed for me when the time comes that I shall need it. In the meantime, please water my dust and continue the good work You began in me, because only You can bring this work to completion. Yours alone is the vision and the power to bring it to pass.

sincerely, Grace Day