"God almost never takes the shortest route between point A and point B... the efficiency of speed and directness is not what he’s about. His purpose is to sanctify the traveler, not speed him between A and B. Frustrating human efficiency is one of God’s primary (I say primary, not secondary) means of sanctifying grace."
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
The world we live in focuses on being finely glazed porcelain – be the best you can be, you are beautiful and useful vessels. You suffer cracks and chips, sometimes shattering, but they say you can work hard to repair and glaze yourself back together. But that simply isn’t our state on Earth. Most of us exist in the soft clay stage. If you’ve ever thrown on a potter’s wheel, you know it is not a gentle and clean process. You make a sharp slice through the larger chunk of clay, throw it on a slab, and forcefully kneed it into a fine, conditioned lump. If you imagine being the clay, it’s rather violent and painful. I think most of humanity's awareness stays there, content with being the shaped lump as long as the pain is over. Some accept that hand-building is necessary to be formed into their purpose. A sturdy useful bowl, with some fingerprints and pits, and a single bisque firing is all they’re content to be.
But if we are destined to be spectacular vessels, uniform, refined, gorgeous pieces of art, that requires so much more work, and a lot more pain on account of the clay. Slammed onto a wheel, set into a dizzying cycle of squeezing and hollowing out, left alone and untouched to dry. When that short rest is over, it gets turned on its head, carved and footed, fired in a scorching kiln, and when things cool off, it’s still not over. Drowned in a suffocating blanket of thick, dull glaze, dried out and untouched again, then thrown into the fire a second time as the chemicals are branded into its very being. It’s the most pain you can possibly inflict on a lump of mud.
But oh, how stunning is the result: glossy, smooth, vibrantly colored and intricately designed. We all hold this masterpiece high on our mantles, admire it, Instagram it, and promote it as what we all aspire to. But we never appreciate the unspeakable pain it is going to take to get there. Cheap acrylic imitations are easier to come by and function just as well in the world. There is privilege in being chosen to become the authentic original.
But it hurts.
In chronic illness, I don’t understand why the rest of the world gets to be beautiful and Instagrammable now, being easily and cheaply mass produced, while I'm being spun on my head and covered with mud. It’s not enough to look bad, we are raised to believe that if we’re not in a presentable, useful state, we ought to feel bad. While the other vases are holding pretty flowers, or the plates are feeding the hungry, I sit in my wet sloppy lump not doing anything, seemingly wasting my life. Rarely do I stop to realize that the vessel cannot make itself. I can do my best to not become hardened and break, but the Potter has complete control over my condition. He decides how to mold me, how long to dry me, how high to fire me, when just the right glaze is ready. He decides when I'm set for the next step, and when I'm finished.
In Lyme, I learned this: God is in charge of my Wasted Days. He’s doing the work. It is not on my shoulders to redeem them. I can BE in my pain. Experience my sorrow. Surrender to His hands to shape me as He wills, and look to Him for my future. I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY OR USELESS FOR BEING SICK. I will not feel like a failure for not healing faster. I'm exactly on time.
"Then walk in the peace and freedom that, when it shatters on the rocks of reality, which it will most days, you’re not being measured by God by how much you get done. You’re being measured by whether you trust the goodness and the wisdom and the sovereignty of God to work this new mess of inefficiency for his glory and the good of everyone involved, even when you can’t see how."