We all have seasons of stretch. Seasons where we have to rise, or grow, or expand our capacity. Whether it’s the addition of a new baby to a family, additional responsibilities or more hours at work, or a shift in career direction. Perhaps it’s further study. Maybe there are elderly family members that need support, or other family members that have a lot going on.
Maybe we’ve sensed a nudge from the Holy Spirit to take that ‘next step’ in our journey with him. To lean in a little more. Or to serve in a new area.
We are not designed to remain exactly as we are. We are absolutely loved by God exactly as we are, but he loves us enough that He will not let us stay there!
The Bible has a beautiful illustration of clay in a potter’s hands that runs from Old Testament to New. It was this illustration that came to mind recently when I was feeling ‘the stretch’.
Clay stays put and allows the potter to do their thing, shaping and moulding it until it reaches its design. Now we are far from inanimate objects! But there is something to be said for “stickability” – where we just keep pressing in to Him, keep letting Him do what He needs to do in us, not fighting off the gentle moulding and character shaping that happens when the potter is free to work. This might look like the ‘iron sharpening iron’ relationships we have in our lives, or it might be the whispers of the Holy Spirit in our quiet time with Him. Do we run from challenge or embrace it?
I don’t remember a great deal from year 8 art class, but I do remember that when you’re making pottery you need to make sure that there are no air pockets, or lumps and bumps in your clay. Any impurities could potentially cause a huge explosion once put in the kiln. Not only would this cause your pot to be destroyed, but would also take out all the surrounding pots too. The only way to ensure that there were no impurities or inconsistencies was to really work the clay, to roll it and press it and push it, until you were confident that it was ready for that next step.
It’s worth allowing ourselves to be moulded in a similar fashion – to remove inconsistencies from our lives, so that when the heat is applied we don’t self-combust. And we don’t affect those around us – whether it’s our own family or our spiritual family!
As I felt the heat applied recently in my own life, I caught myself professing how ‘busy’ I was, and complaining about a lack of time, and how tired I was. A lot. For me it was an inconsistency. I needed to change my attitude and my words. So I started thanking God for this season. For the opportunity to work and contribute to my family financially. For the fullness of our world, opportunities to serve, and for incredible people we spend time with. For children who are active and involved. For a husband who ‘sits at the gates’ with integrity and diligence. Same circumstances, different lens.
The potter also depends on water for the moulding to take place properly. For the stretch to happen in our own lives we also need the cleansing, refreshing and gentle power of the Holy Spirit. We can too easily become dry, brittle and break without it! He keeps us soft and supple in the stretch, so that we can be shaped and moulded into being who He has called us to be. It’s God’s grace at work in and through our lives.
And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Is 64:8
So if I may encourage you – embrace the stretch. Lean in to His design for your current season. He’s a good God, with good plans.