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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sculpture In Process

I wonder how many people give up on Christianity because they feel like they aren't very good at it. I'll bet there are more of them than there are of us. You know "us" right? We are the ones who don't give up on it even though we know we aren't very good at it. No matter how hard we try, nothing feels good enough.

We work every day to sculpt ourselves into the image of Jesus, but we never quite get it right. Some days, it's something simple like maybe our mouth is not forming appropriately. Other days, it might be more severe - so severe that maybe we have to resculpt our entire head. Then there are those days, weeks, months that we have to destroy our hardened sculpture and start with a whole new lump of clay.

This is called sanctification. Once you become a Christian, you have experienced salvation. The next step is sanctification - working hard to mold yourself into the holy image of Christ.

This is where it gets tricky. On this side of Heaven, our sculpture can NEVER be complete.

Each day, I can measure my sanctification effort by visualizing my sculpture. Some days it looks pretty darn good. Other days it can be a huge lump of clay that overwhelms me with fear and exhaustion just looking at it.

So here's my problem. I like to complete things, and since I can't finish my sculpture, I always feel like I could be doing better.

God has given me two ministries to glorify Him through. I help collect food for hungry children in Kentucky and talk to people about a maternity home called Lydia's House through Backpack Mission Ministries. God worked through me this summer to collect enough food and donations to feed 125 kids for a month. He also worked through me to collect some financial donations and allowed me to make some incredible contacts for Lydia's House. I rejoiced and praised Him for what He did. Then I looked inside myself and became despondent. Should I have worked harder for God? Maybe He wanted me to collect more money, more food. Why do I do this to myself? Do you do this or am I alone?

The other is my own personal writing ministry. For my Christian writing friends - you do consider your writing a ministry don't you? If you don't you must change how you think. Each day before you tap your first word into your computer, ask God to pour His message through you. Will it be perfect? No. Will pieces of your flesh seep in? Yes. Your sculpture is still in process, remember. But, His message will come through if you ask Him for it.

I wonder if some of those Christians who many of us view to be great soldiers for God ever felt like their efforts just weren't good enough. I recently read James Lindquist's blog post, "The Little Brown Cardboard Box." It was about our worth -- about how when we die all of our stuff will be burned away, while all that is pure in us will be refined. It reminded me of John Wesley.

John Wesley was a Christian theologian who is credited with the founding of the Methodist movement. He also published Bibles and hymns. He founded orphanages and funded missions. He made a lot of money in his lifetime. When he died he owned a preaching gown, a few books, some silver spoons, and six pound notes (a total worth of $30). Everything he made, he gave to God. Do you think he ever said, "I'm just not doing enough." I'll bet he did because, like us, he was human and imperfect.

I think as long as you are sculpting every single day, you are pleasing God. Your sculpture doesn't have to be perfect or complete, -- in fact it never will be until the day of judgement when your salvation is complete -- but it does have to be in process.


What does your sculpture look like today?


10 comments :

  1. The Thomas House said...

    I often feel I don't do enough, then I remind myself I am very comfortable were I am at. Why would I truly want to do anymore? Then I see the eyes of those who come to my door to ask for the sandwich or for a dollar, an I am reminded, what you do for the least of these, you do for me.

    I think at times God has to gently prompt us back, then it might be more sutle (wish I was a better speller). After watching our video last night, I was reminded of what the bickering was about (in regard's to the should we get the trading post, spend the money)

    Our mission here is needed, George's desire here to serve is right on. SO I will keep, keepin on.

  2. Sue said...

    What a great reminder that in all I do in word and deed must be filtered through my love for Jesus!

    I have to tell you Karen... I for one enjoy your ministry of writing very much!

    Hugs

  3. warrenjc said...

    The reason I fail so much is because I try to sculpture myself. I used to say, "No problem Lord, I got this one. You're so busy taking care of real problems." Inevitably, I'd fail. (Oops.)

    I decided to let let the Lord (as you put it) sculpt me. I still try and guide the potters hands from time to time but I'm getting better at letting Him have control.

    You are not alone in the self-deprecation department. I used to think that I was unworthy of God's love. One day, I said, "Wait a minute! With Jesus inside of me, how can I be unworthy." I said, "Jesus died for me. He must have thought that I was worth His death." Thank you Jesus!!

    We are worthy but are undeserving. Enter - God's grace. Again, thank you Jesus. The enemy listens to self-talk also. I have to watch what I speak into existence.

    Thank you so much Karen for mentioning my blog, The Little Brown Cardboard Box. I appreciate it. I believe that the Lord's mandated purpose for my life is writing. It is my passion, (which He gave to me in the first place).

    God bless you Karen and keep writing. Good word here in your blog.

  4. Stephanie Faris said...

    I love the way you put it. I'm not very good at being a Christian, I'll admit it. There are so many who are much better, including you! But it's all a personal journey and I guess we have to avoid comparing ourselves to others.

    You are always an inspiration to me!

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  6. Karen said...

    Thanks for all of these great comments, my friends.

    Traci - I remember the eyes of those people who would come to your door when I was there last year. You and George are awesome servants. We use that scripture at Backpack Missions as well. Always remember, when you feed them, you feed Jesus. When you clothe them, you clothe Jesus.

    Sue - thanks for your continued support of my blog. Kudos from fellow writers are always extra special to me.

    jc - you are welcome. I always enjoy reading your blog. It teaches me something every time.

    Stephanie - Yes. Every journey is very personal. I wrote an article for my CWG course recently about how at one time I was involved in so many "Christian" things that I was failing at all of them. But I had this "more tally marks equal more treasures in Heaven" drive. Of course, there is no scriptural basis for such a thing, but I thought the more I did, the more I'd please God. When God showed me my error, I started cutting. I cut out all but the two places where God told me to spend my time.

    In reality, God simply wants us to have a relationship with Him. If we have that, everything else will fall into place. And you can rest assured, tally marks and comparisons will have nothing to do with our final judgement. It will all rest on faith and saving grace, no matter how much we did here on earth.

    Lighthouse - I'll check out your site. Thank you.

  7. sweetthang said...

    Karen, I love reading your blog. The other day I was working on my own and I mentioned to my husband how I just "drop by" yours to see what's going on. I personally went through a very dark time in my life recently around this very type of thing. You can read about it on my blog if you're interested.
    http://hopeifindanameforthisstupidblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/keep-swimming.html

    There is also a follow up piece by the same name in the following month's posts.

    So many of us struggle with not being good enough and give up. What warrenjc said is true. That sculpting process, that sanctification is not our work to do. While this may seem like a very fine line, it makes all the difference in the world about how we view ourselves. He did all the work on the cross. The salvation AND the sanctification. Thanks so much for writing thought-provoking material! God bless!

  8. Christian Mommy Writer said...

    Hmmm...this post allows for a lot of reflection, yet, it is still encouraging.

    My sculpture is a work in progress. Some days, I'm very pleased with my work. Other days, I hate what has been created and start over again.

    I'm in the CWG Apprentice program too. I'm on Lesson 17 and it has been a blessing to my writing ministry.

  9. Talkin' Texan said...

    I enjoyed reading your post, but this thought kept coming to me--the problem might be that we try to mold and sculpt and change ourselves. God is the potter and we are only the clay. Maybe we could do Christianity better if we quit trying to do the work and just let God do the work in us.

  10. Karen said...

    Great point, TT.

    We should just allow God to lead in all that we do and through us He will be glorified. That free human will that God gives us makes it hard for us to just give God the car keys and lock ourselves in the trunk (from and old Paris Reidhead sermon). But that's what we should do.