I was born in the summer of 1967, making me very much a child of the 70's. In my girl scout troop we happily passed the hours doing crafts. I remember all of the necklaces, bracelets, belts, plant holders, wall art, and all sorts of owl designs. But what really got me excited was when we would go to the ceramic shop. Do you remember those special places? Aisle upon aisle of dusty figurines and plaques, just waiting for our artistic flair with paint? Those were the best!
I remember agonizing over the hundreds of choices available. Should I choose a Strawberry Shortcake figurine or the toad on a log? OR maybe a peace symbol? And then the real fun would begin... well, almost. You see, before we could paint the masterpiece you had to prepare it. The molding process typically left seam lines, bubbles, and blemishes. If you didn't spend the time smoothing out these imperfections before painting, then you would not be happy with the results. I wasn't really excited about this part. It was very slow work and when you were done it was still a boring white ceramic statue completely empty of any sort of character. I wanted to get to the exciting part - the painting. What I really wanted was the final product without all of the hard work that it would take to get there.
I find that to be the case too often with my spiritual life as well. I want to jump over the "boring" stuff and get to the perfection part. It is said that God could have made all of creation perfect in an instant, but that God chooses to allow us to be a part of the process. What that means is that you and I need to sand off our rough edges and scrape out and cleanly define our details. It means committing ourselves to the work of discipleship, the day-in, day-out attention to the form we are taking on. What helps me is keeping the end in sight. I have a picture in my mind as a passionate prayer, a steadfast presence, a joyful giver, a dedicated server, and an earnest witness. It takes work. It is not always glamorous and at times is tough. But when we compare it to the glory of a disciple perfected in love, it seems worth it to me. And the best part is we don't have to do it alone. We have each other!
My son rescued the last remnant from my days as a ceramic artist just before our move to Grand Rapids in 2011. It was a small statue of a clown. I wanted to get rid of it but he thought it was cool. I'm glad that we kept it, because it will remind me of the results of hard work. Are you willing to take the time to smooth your rough edges, lumps, and blemishes? If so, I invite you to spend this month in prayer, weekly worship, outreach, and Thanksgiving. Let's craft a beautiful life together.