Thanksgiving of a Weaker Vessel

Last night I was chopping mushrooms for a dish I’m taking to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I noticed I kept feeling guilty about something ridiculous so, instead of arguing with myself, I decided to take it straight to God. I asked if he was mad at me, and he had an answer waiting!  He said this:

I just love you.

And then I got a download of understanding about a topic that has irked me for all of my thinking days. I am forever the weaker vessel in this relationship.

I could see him carefully holding a delicate vase, showing me how tenderly it had to be handled.

I saw what a treasure I am to him. I saw how proud he is of me, of my love for him, of the YES I hold in my heart for him. I saw how he sees the big picture, the progress, the journey – not all the flaws we tend to focus on. Hearing him say I am a weaker vessel did not bother me the way it has so many times before from other speakers…because he is the Author and has perfect delivery. I finally understood what he meant by it!

The fragility is physical, emotional, spiritual. This is the way he sees us all, and loves us all. Everyone in the church is his bride.

He helped me see the grace so many have extended to me in this way, and reminded me of others that I have seen and loved in this way. That is not a natural human trait. That is loving like Christ, seeing through his lens of absolute love and grace.

So this morning I revisited that passage:

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)

The point is summed up in the very next verse:

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another;
love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;
not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing,
knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8

None of these words can quite capture the brilliance of that revelation – his tender, compassionate, and overwhelming love for us! He wants us to understand and share that loving grace, not the judgment that comes from examining each other’s vases for flaws. I am far from perfect, and still he loves with abundance. I am so thankful for this reminder to love with that same grace he has shown toward me.

Paralysis by Analysis

“Paralysis by analysis” – Unfortunately, I didn’t coin that phrase, but I’m so glad I heard it today!

Have you ever noticed how, when you are on the threshold of doing something BIG, all the reasons you shouldn’t start popping into your mind? All the ways you are not qualified become so clear?

There is much wisdom in discussing big decisions with friends, leaders, and in prayer. These discussions should help identify potential weaknesses, so we can set safeguards in place.

But too much introspection can become a real hindrance. If we’re not careful, it leads us to focus on the problems, the fears, the inadequacies. It can lead to measuring and comparison, which either leads to pride or shame. Let’s face it – no matter how long we think about it, His callings are not going to make sense to us most of the time!

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
Isaiah 55:8

Whatever we focus on will order our life. As long as we are focused on our limitations, we will remain chained to them. If we focus on the Lord, we will be transformed and made more like Him.

Whenever they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! … Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18

I’m finding that the longer I walk with and focus on Him, the clearer my desires are becoming. I have learned to recognize His voice immediately. Yes, there are moments of panic when the direction He is leading is bigger than I imagined, but I know He will be my strength.

“I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places
— firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
Isaiah 58:11

Oh…so the phrase “Paralysis by analysis” came from a teaching by Mike Bickle on the life of David – The Beauty of God’s Mind. Part 16 of the series, May 19, 1998. I highly recommend it!

Radical

Here I am, watching myself walk toward yet another crazy, life-changing threshold.

It’s funny the way God keeps calling me out of my comfort zones…and straight into things I have tried to avoid my whole life. It’s been amazing how the timing and desire lines up perfectly as I learn to stop making excuses and just say “YES” to his plans.

This radical obedience, living in obedience when it just doesn’t make sense to most people, can be confusing to watch from the sidelines. Sometimes the direction changes on a daily basis. I feel like I’m in training – learning to hear his voice. It has also occurred to me that the challenges are getting bigger, impacting more people, as I walk through each one.

This was perfectly summed up by Jesus himself:

Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.
Mark 4:24-25

The more we are willing to listen and obey, the more he speaks and shares his will with us!

There is nothing special about me. We ALL get these nudges to step outside of our comfort zones to serve others in some way. The reasons to ignore them are easy to find, but I have to tell you. It’s really, really exciting to hear his voice, and to see glimpses of his plans for my life. I can’t wait to hear how he is speaking to you!

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Just heard this sermon from Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Church along these lines:

http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/wiser-together-2/#content