Cracked Pot (it’s not about the outside)

This afternoon I grabbed a composition book off the coffee table. When I sat down I found that it was the graph paper one in which I sketch my ideas for a new kitchen. As I started to write anyway {because the idea struck}, I found myself thinking on these lines.

The squares on the page march on across. Stick straight. Up, down. Right, left. They cover the page. They remind me of cookie-cutter people; each one predictable within the confines of the lines. The ones who fit in with society’s expectations, the ones who look like and behave like everyone else. I don’t fit. I never could color inside the lines.

I stick out like a sore thumb.

Well, ok, not really- I conform on the outside, to my chagrin. I wear acceptable clothes and my hair is its own color. But, I am not a cookie cutter – on the inside. If I did not care whether I stood out or not, I’d be wearing steam punk black and red; and my hair would be stark black with a black cherry rinse on it. {Why, yes, yes I have thought about what it would mean to take personal external expression to the extreme and embarrass my grandchildren at the same time.} What people do not see on casual observation or quick glance is the me that I am. The invisible me.

Truth is, I want to be loud, outrageous and draw attention all right- to The One who lives within. Not to myself; but to Him, THE ONE. The Author, Creator, The One who holds it all together by a Word. Who takes me as I am. Because I took Him at His Word; because He is The Word.

I am a broken vessel, a cracked pot. I am one whose contents dribble out of those cracks. I am one whose cracks reveal Him and what He has done for me on The Cross. You see, I carry around The Living Water and though I may not stand out, it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I want Him to be seen. Not me.

I am what He designed me to be and it’s just fine with me that I look like one of the crowd on first glance; but He knows better. I am His and I am loved. He calls me by my name.

 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  John 10:2-3

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

 

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

Today’s prompt is: Exhale

Inhale…exhale. Repeat.

From the moment we are born till our last breath we measure life by the number of breaths.

Always, the exhale signals the end of a breath.

We hold our breath in anticipation, in dread, and on exertion.

In labor, we measure the contractions and ride each wave by the way we inhale and exhale until new life enters the world and the process continues…inhale…exhale.

It’s an amazing process, fresh air loaded with oxygen brings life to us and the exhale removes the waste.

A forced exchange.

In goes the good air, out comes the bad. 

The forceful release of our breath can indicate relief, relaxation, concentration, and frustration. 

Imagine that- a normal body function that no one thinks about reveals so much.

It is a barometer of feelings, that exhale.  The telltale of what is going on inside.

That sigh at the end of the exhale reveals the truth of our feelings, belying our words of “I’m fine, really, I’m just fine.” 

We mark time with that release of breath. 

We watch loved ones slowly slip away with those last breaths until the last here on this earth.

But the first exhale gave life from God to Adam.

And the rest…. Is our story.

The measure of our days is really a summation of all the exhales we experience.

It fills books, writes history,tells stories, leaves legacies and blessings and curses; it offers encouragement and signals defeat.

The tale of all that’s occurred from that first gasp to the last.

What does your exhale reveal about you?

Then the Lord God formed a 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

Faith

 

In the spring and early summer the night birds start up early, before morning. Tuning up to greet the day as it approaches. Now they are silent. The reason for their silence is a cat.

I hear that cat, caterwauling, letting the world know it is not happy for one reason or other that usually involves another cat or a dog. It tunes up and disturbs the night with its snarly tone. No soft meow for this cat.

I like cats. I understand them. But the caterwaul in the night sets my teeth on edge. It is menacing; full of aggression and gives notice to all that the cat is on the prowl. It makes me think of the bully in the schoolyard, strutting his stuff while everyone draws back and pulls away from him.

I sometimes wonder if the behavior of animals is immediately identifiable to us because we see ourselves in them.  Played out before us in the world of nature, they are tender, identifiable, and sometimes shocking. The tolerance of a mother dog with her pups as they play around and on her. The encouragement of the mother bird as she pushes those chicks out of the nest for the first time, knowing they have to go to live. The grooming many mother animals do for their young. The way a mother lion puts herself in danger to protect those cubs and ensure the continuation of their species.  The methods the mother eagle and hawk use to find, dispatch and bring food back to nurture the young to adulthood. The protection and care the bees give to all the eggs in the hive to ensure just the right environment for hatching. It all boils down to propagation and preservation of their species.

And then, I watch the nightly news. And it seems that we humans use the lesson of the “survival of the fittest” to be the one thing we deem important to do that reflects the behavior of animal world. We are so quick to make an effort to propagate and preserve “our” species just as long as that species speaks the same language, worships the same way, wears the same clothes, has the same color skin, and whose culture mirrors our own.

But, all of us humans, ARE the same species. 

And those basic human rights we banter about; promote and vow to protect- it seems to me that not all of us got that memo. 

I ask the questions here that most disturb me-

Why is it that we either justify or condemn the behavior of another culture from our soapboxes, and pick and choose which side to be on; like we were back in the schoolyard?  Didn’t the confrontation with the bully teach us anything? If we all turn away, united in our going, the bully won’t have anyone to bully. Simple as that, yes?

Ah, but no. Just no.

There’s another dynamic in play here. Early on in our childhood we learn to pick “sides” according to our likes and dislikes. We play war, we strategize, we call it baseball, dodge ball, red rover, soccer, football, basketball. It doesn’t matter what we play; we imitate the grownups.  We learn to act and think as one entity in the team we are on. The ultimate goal is winning. That we all understand. Winning is the most important thing after all. It ensures we live to play another day. It does matter how we play the game because that determines whether we win or lose. Someone has to be better than someone else. Survival of the fittest plays out. Every time.

The thing is though, that it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were supposed to grow up in a beautiful garden, surrounded by animals living together in harmony, eating off the land and generally having a good time with all of our needs met by a God who created us and loves us and Who walked and talked with us there.

And that’s where I trip up. I start wondering why, if God designed all this, why did He let sin in the front door? Why didn’t he just do away with satan at once? Why even allow the snake in the garden? Why create a snake in the first place? Why didn’t he build in resistance in Adam and Eve? Why couldn’t he put in a failsafe? Why put that tree there? What was that fruit; that it was so powerful that it could show us what we are not? It was His garden after all. The questioner in me revs up and gets going. I start asking so many things that my mind, like Job’s begins to boil with questions.

And then I stop.

Short.

Because they lead to more questions that I can’t answer.  

The teacher in Ecclesiastes said it was “chasing after the wind” trying to understand it all.

Because I’m not God. I believe in order, not chaos and things happen for a reason.

Because I believe there is more than I can see or reason away in logic and that there is more than survival of the fittest going on in this world.

Because, some things demand faith.  

Faith that there is more than what I can see, hear, smell, taste, touch or feel with my emotions.

Faith that the other side of this fabric of life is not all knots and threads in disarray, but a beautiful picture that makes total sense once I lay my eyes on it.

Faith that God is God.

Why the wind blows where it does, how it blows, the direction, the strength, the ebb and flow- some of this can be explained but only to a certain degree. After that….

It’s either a good day to fly a kite or it isn’t.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. Hebrews 11:1-3