A Note from Stephanie: Hello everyone! Unfortunately, the devotion Tim was writing for this week somehow vanished, and we can no longer access it within his computer, despite our best efforts. Therefore, Tim has requested that I post one of his favorite devotions, which we originally placed on this site nearly a year ago. We hope you’ll enjoy reading and/or revisiting it!
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
–Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)
There was once a poor potter who lived in a small village with his wife and young son. Every day he toiled from sun-up to sundown in a dimly lit room that served as his shop, just to make ends meet. But although he worked hard, the potter could barely put food on the table, and his family had little to eat.
The potter’s son grew up in the small shop, and when he was old enough he learned to make pots from his father. Everyone in the tiny village with its sagging mud walls and thatched roofs enjoyed both of their work, but the son’s pots were especially beautiful. His dream was to become a great artist someday, and this made his father very proud indeed. The village afforded no opportunities for training, but the potter’s son immersed himself in his craft with a passion, and learned all that he could from his father.
One night, the potter had a dream, and he saw something that would change his life forever. In the dream he saw a beautiful vase which attracted people from miles around. It was absolutely perfect, and unlike anything his eyes had ever beheld.
When the potter woke up, he decided that if he couldn’t be a renowned artist, he would at least duplicate the wondrous vase if it was the last thing he ever did. He spent all of his free time drawing up the plans, and he tried to copy every last intricate detail.
Then He began working on the actual vase he had seen. He would stay up late after the rest of the family went to bed, working on the final product. But no matter how hard he tried, he could never form the vase perfectly. Every time he thought he had copied it exactly, another flaw appeared. He molded the vase again and again, never giving up, but he still wasn’t satisfied.
Finally, another potter came to town who had both training and skil. It so happened that he had experienced a similar dream, so the two potters worked together. The stranger taught the younger man the skills that he lacked. They toiled tirelessly to create the exact design, and the more they worked, the more beautiful the vase became.
When they finally completed the vase, they painted it with colors that shimmered in the sunlight. Finally, they put their finished masterpiece in the town square, where all of the people stood in line for hours just to see it.
This story is designed to paint a picture in words of the way God wants to work in our lives. But many times, like the potter’s young son, we toil in our own strength. We think we must have everything that we want, and we don’t leave room for God to mold and shape us.
I know very little about pottery, but what I do know is this. When something doesn’t turn out right, the potter often has to break his creation apart and start all over again. While this is definitely not fun in real life or in the workshop, it is often the way God works. Like the stranger in the story, He longs to create a beautiful work of art.
But just as creating something special is time-consuming, God often works at a much slower pace than I would like. I want a message from Him by email, but He still sends me snail mail. Or to put it another way, He bakes when I would rather microwave.
As tough as it is, the scriptures tell us the secret that God holds out, and that secret is contentment. Since this is something that most of us have a hard time accepting, let’s look at some facts about it.
First of all, God is the only one who can truly teach us this characteristic. Therefore, developing contentment means cultivating a dependence upon Him. Most of us think we are very independent, but this is only an illusion. Life is a gift, and so are things like food, air and water.
But like a baby who is learning to walk, we must walk through life by learning to hold onto God’s hand. You and I can only do this by saturating ourselves in God’s Word, and by bringing our cares to Him on a moment-by-moment basis. By doing this, you will find that you are not tossed back and forth by the everyday problems that life brings.
God has a great benefit package for us, for His blessings of love, joy and peace are great.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6499. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.