Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ordinary Clay

One of my favorite things about writing is that a wordsmith never knows how or from where inspiration will come. Several  exchanges with others in the past several weeks has caused me to pause for a bit of introspection. 

I conclude it’s time to confess what I discovered. 

I may not wear my theological convictions as slogans on a t-shirt, but I am about as Christian as one can get, if by definition one who believes in and seeks to follow Christ can claim to be. However I am also a lone wolf, so to speak. For reasons unnecessary to list, while I am a member of the Body of Christ, I don’t belong to a religious group/denomination/church. It has taken most of my seventy years to be 100% comfortable and okay with that.  Perhaps because the world has its own definitions of how to identify a Christian and I don't fit.

Since one is rarely an ‘outlier’ by choice, I freely admit I used to long for like-minded Christian fellowship.  But the longer I have remained in the wilderness of being outside of organized religion, first by being forced, then remaining by choice, the more I sought to learn, the more difficult it became for me to have meaningful fellowship on a spiritual plain. I certainly can interact socially, but neither can I share what I also cannot now unknow. This sounds arrogant but I do not mean it to be. It’s simply describing the difference between requiring nourishment by milk or meat. I’m in the meat stage now. 

Disclaimer note: Getting to this point in one’s spiritual walk is not inevitable and not a requirement for salvation. 

Think of it as graduate school. You have your diploma and now you want to go further. Growing in Christ is as individual a process as each person’s testimony. The conundrum is - it can’t be taught but only experienced. Though some truly anointed teachers, such as Tozer, T-Austin Sparks, Oswald Chambers, etc., have each put out the syllabus for seekers to follow to their own higher education.

I understand the human side is to desire to share and connect, to uplift and be uplifted, to maintain accountability to something. Humans are hard-wired for this. But some of this is just a natural yearning for confirmation from others, that you are on the right track. Birds of a feather flock together for a reason. In my personal journey, that I know has no real end until my last breath is exhaled, I finally realized that the only confirmation I really need is from Jesus. If I am pariah to the world, if I do not nor ever will ‘fit in’ as long as I know I am pleasing to Him, I can do His bidding and no one else has to see or acknowledge it. In fact, given the state of the world nowadays I think I would be somewhat alarmed if suddenly the world noticed or understood me. God forbid! :-)

When I was younger I assumed there was a specific calling for my life. As I grew up in the spirit I finally understood that I am simply called to BE His will. Every small, unnoticeable call that I have stepped up to is all that was required of me. It is my opus, my body of work. As simple as a prayer, as complex as a physical reaching out of a hand up. God is not bound by our definition of size or meaningfulness. It’s not the doing it that matters as much as the willingness to say,  "Here am I, Lord. Send me!”. This still amazes me.

It's another of those great mysteries though - to grasp that nothing we are or do matters as much as the act of simply obeying, even if you never know why, even if ‘going’ means staying right where you are and silently praying as you are prompted. 

So, here I am, just a lopsided, lumpy, empty vessel at the ready to serve, whatever that might be. Nothing grand or noteworthy. Nothing to share with or teach anyone else. But this, then, is also my consolation for lack of fellowship. Those several degrees of separation also protect me from the slings and arrows of the madding world. I am grateful.

Thank You, Lord!

For Him,

Romans 9:21 - Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?


  1. Well, this is new information for this fairly long-time reader. And I've always thought of you as a vessel who has been designed for and is living out God's "special purpose" while also devoting herself to "common use."
    And I'm sad at the loss to some poor, deprived fellowship that would otherwise have the benefit of your wisdom and spark up close and personal.

    1. You know the Scripture about the Body having many parts? Well, I don’t know what part I am. I just know what I am not. I am not the mouth. It’s not my appointment to speak or teach. Those with that anointing are usually given a platform. That’s not to say they are given an easy time to do their job, just that doors and ways are opened to do the tough job.

      Just because one knows things doesn’t mean one can make anyone else know it. I find I am best at just confirming for someone else who has begun to see something. I’m okay with that except I find that there are so few in this age who are still alive who have the deep life knowledge that many who are now long gone had. Like Tozer, T.Austin-Sparks, Oswald Chambers and others. Hard to confirm something for an already gone person. I admit to some frustration there.

      However! I may not be a mouth but I am content that God uses me as He chooses and that I am willing to be invisible in the process. This blog, for example. I’ve been writing my thoughts and perspectives for almost six years - in this format. Years before that - fifteen actually - I wrote in my website and a local monthly paper. I did not then nor do I now write to be acknowledged or agreed with. I don’t expect a ‘following’. In fact, I have no idea who reads what I write. My pact with God is that I would write and then He would decide who, if anyone, should read it. And I am good with that. To quote a dear friend, “God knows”. :-)

    2. So much wisdom in this. Again, thank you for being faithful to your calling.

  2. I totally understand this in ways I don’t know if I can explain but I can start by saying I don’t have a church home either. I had some pretty unhappy experiences with a few different denominations ranging from a fundamentalist church that didn’t take long to figure out was a legalistic cult to a mega church that was way too big and worldly for me to feel like I was part of a Christ following fellowship. Not one person spoke to me the few times I went. It was like a convention or something with a big band performance and all. Since I was 22 I have been baptized three times. Honestly I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that. Every time I would try to fit in I was told I had to be baptized to become a member. This sounds crazy now, but in one church I wasn’t allowed to take holy communion on Easter Sunday because I wasn’t a member even though I said I had been baptized but they wouldn’t accept it because it was in a different denomination. I finally said this makes no sense and I quit but I still feel guilt for not going or trying to search for the right place making me feel like I was not doing anything for God anymore. Now I think I can see this differently. I have always believed I could have a one on one relationship with Christ without a church telling me how to but the guilt thing is never ending from friends and some family who condemn me for not going to church. I think this is so wrong but I don’t know how to fight it. I do things that no one else knows about including intercessory prayer. I read my Bible every day. Maybe I’m not as alone as I thought I was??? I hope I am a part of the body but I don’t know what part I am either. Saying all this has made me feel better though. I really appreciate this.

    1. The concept that the only way to fellowship is within an organized group is deeply embedded in modern Christianity. I have learned the hard way to keep it to myself, how I feel about organized religion in general. But, let me say this - I do not lump together all churches and groups that gather in the name of Christ. I’ve been in the presence of some very humble, earnest Christians in their place of worship. I don’t use a broad brush, nor am I interested in inspiring anyone else to take the often lonely road I have taken that Tozer so well described -

      Here’s the bottom line and why it is so unfair for anyone to judge another’s relationship with God based on belonging to a church or not - God knows His own and calls them to His purpose. When I have dared to be open about this I have come to expect rebuke and I find that interesting, almost as though by doing differently I am challenging the status quo. But I am not. Nor am I a threat to anyone else's choice.

      I suggest you check out Chip Brogden’s website - the link is on the right side of this blog. He knows first hand the lonely road.

  3. By virtue of belonging to Christ we are a part of His Body, intended to be an integral part of its growth to maturity... This is not the same as being a member of an institution. In some places it is necessary to hold the institution at arm's length but still to seek out members of the Body and be involved in their lives. It is for their befit and our own! As a principle we are not intended to journey alone to maturity in Christ... God preserves a remnant, always. Don't stop seeking to serve the Body wherever you find it and Meema, I'm grateful for your voice here! You have a uniquely encouraging voice.

    1. I do appreciate your gentle words - and encouragement. Indeed the most difficult concept I have ever tried to explain is that of God’s incredible endless variety, especially when it comes to assignments. To be forever embedded in a one-and-only-way vision of how we can/should serve Him is to be limited by our own myopia.

      I greatly enjoy your blog and read faithfully even if I don’t comment.

  4. When I read this I thought - wow! someone understands. It has been difficult for me to settle down in a church. To say I don't 'fit in' is an understatement. Like you, I don't say that in arrogance, pride or superiority. Your phrase "cannot unknow" is perfect. Chewing on meat, not sucking down milk is also appropriate. I've tried Bible studies but don't fit in there either. People have told me I should be part of a church to give of myself but then they look at me like a three-headed alien if I share where I'm at with the Lord. I would like fellowship and maybe someday I will find it. But for now, studying alone works for me. Kindred spirits.

    1. To find you are not alone, that you are not crazy, that even if you are only a small cog in a purpose greater than you, is enough. Enough to keep you going, waiting, speaking or not speaking as you are moved to do or not. Enough is really all we can hope for. Turns out just enough really is enough. It’s impossible to explain to mainstream Christians that there are many more ways to give than what is fixed in concept as ‘ministering’ in a fellowship. So many more ways.

      Nann, here’s an interesting turn of events. Just recently, days after I posted this, I’ve had the opportunity to share an essay I wrote in 2012 about the emersion experience I had with a cult leader in a Signs and Wonders ministry. For some reason it seems the time has come to expose the process to those with eyes to see and ears to hear - the buzz words, the religious tyranny that is growing like a cancer. I think I might have posted a link to the pdf file awhile back - I don’t know if you ever saw it but here’s the link if you didn’t.

      I really appreciate you, dear heart. God is so good, isn’t He?

    2. I've read your essay before but took the time to read it again. While I do not have the history of being in a cult as you described, I share all the truths surrounding it. I call it "looking for God in all the wrong places." I think a big part of my issue was that I wanted to understand God. Duh. Now I am just sitting at His feet taking whatever His chooses to offer and knowing it is the best for me. Yes, He is God and whenever God shows up miracles happen . . . because that's Who He is! But when we keep our eyes on miracles, signs and wonders we miss so much more.

      The reason Isaiah was able to say, "Here I am, send me" is because Isaiah was in God's presence to hear the request. That's where I want to be. In that place where God and I are alone together (like in the old hymn: I come to the garden alone. . .and He walks with me and He talks with me). But in those times when I am getting swallowed up in "what's wrong with me?" God sends a wonderful wordsmith like you out with His message: Nothing is wrong with you. You are exactly where I want you to be. :D

      Yes, God is magnificent! And He gives us His Excellent Name. And has His Spirit live in us. And His Word gives us life. Why do we chase after anything else? What more is there? Silly humans!

    3. So true!

      I’ve had some life experiences that have launched me into different learning curves and one of the most interesting has been the study of personality traits. God is the ultimate creator so He designed us to be basically similar but different in multiple ways - we each have uniqueness because of the way we are assembled. For all the variety though, certain rules apply. For this reason I have come to be able to spot dominate personality traits, especially those that are driven to control or overlord others.

      I have also come to understand that human nature is a stunted child that can never grow up. Only as we surrender to Christ and allow His spirit to mature us, can we overcome our silly self-centered human nature.

      One of my most recent deep dive studies has taken me into the alternate realities of disordered brains. It’s kind of scary actually but by understanding how a psychopath’s brain thinks you can almost predict their moves. Satan, it turns out, is the father of psychopathy and the very first case. :-) He knows he has lost but he still thinks he can win anyway. At the very least he is driven to take as many with him as he can.