Inside Every Block of Stone

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
― Mark Twain

photo (19)Wise words from Mr. Twain. There is no advantage over the ones who don’t have if the ones who do, do not make some use of what they have. I doubt there is a single person in this world who was born without a single gift to make themselves useful, not only for their own lives but for others. There is that common argument lazy students often give: “I’m not stupid. I’m probably smarter than all of you in this class, but the only reason why I’m failing is because I don’t try. Not because I’m stupid.” Wise words for a young child, but oh so wrong in several ways!

What probably frustrates a teacher more than anything isn’t the student who slowly but cautiously applies himself to the challenges of studying, but the student who pipes up about his intelligence yet shows no application of that so-called intelligence. It is also a trait that aggravates so many of our parents when a child refuses to work up to his capabilities.

There are no guarantees that any two people are built the same way: genetically, without a doubt, but also in factors of intelligence, personality, and capability. Yet what separates the doer from the observer is that one lives his life, and the other watches the doer living. The observer develops a sharp-tongue, a critiquing mind that parses the acts of the doer into multiple categories of good and bad. Yet, that is only a skill that has developed from spending time observing, comparing, and judging lives from the third person. Not to say we don’t need observers who put into study a comparative module of good and bad, but speaking solely of those who lay back and create nothing helpful or useful neither to themselves or those who they critique.

Yet, the doer, though slow in tongue he may be, lives his life. He changes, he develops, and he creates extensions of life by the works of his hands and mind.

In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 64, verse 8: “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”. This confession promises not only that we leave it up to our Father to shape us, but furthermore, that we are shapeable. Inside every block of stone, there is masterpiece. Likewise, by the hands of our LORD, we can be made like valuable. We can be made into a new creation from the clay that we are.

It is a complete transformation. We have been made new.

And like our Father, have we worked, have we molded anything into something valuable? Meaningful? We may not have all received the same amounts and qualities of talents and skills, but have we expressed our gratitude for what we have by working and molding what we have into something better?

In summary, first let us entrust God with our lives. There is no door God cannot open, and there is no open door God cannot close. If God chooses not to use your talents, then no effort or work invested into your talents will prosper into anything you hoped for. However, as long as you stand righteous before God and entrust Him, discover what God has given you. There may not be a hundred, fifty, or even ten. But take whatever you have and constantly work on it. Farm it, water it, and nurture it with prayer.

Just as you are molded by Christ, mold what you been given for Christ today.

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The Silent God.

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In the initial steps of receiving Christ into one’s life, the most fundamental dilemma is the question of prayer. “If God does exist and He is Almighty, then He can surely answer everything I ask for couldn’t He?” This prayer stems from the most innocent hearts filled with desperation. Then whenever that deep wishful prayer isn’t answered, it leads to the next step in confusion. “If God has the power to answer all prayers, then why didn’t He answer mine? Did I not wish hard enough? Did I not express my heart truly and fully to Him?”

A spiritually young heart will kneel and pray again and again, asking for that one key that will open all doors. When the prayer is still not answered, other bubbles of questions arise: “Is God even there? Perhaps I am nothing to Him?”

The Silent God.

As we learn more and more about God, we begin to face the Silent God; the One who remains calm and passive to the tumultuous events in our lives. Where is God when I need Him most? Where was the Active God who spoke to Abraham, telling him where to go? Where was this active God who held up the moon and sun so that the Israelites could win their battle? Where was this active God who showed His people both His wrath and love with all the signs of the world?

Say we learn somewhere along our spiritual journey that all we do must lead to God’s glory. So you begin to pray not in just a wishful begging, but with a purpose. You promise God that all your success is for His glory, and that if this one key was to be given, all the doors that would thereby open would be His and for Him only.

Even after that, you may find yourself facing a hard locked door. What then? You begin to bargain with God, giving more and taking away bit by bit what you asked for. When you parse away enough of what you are asking for, you then realize this isn’t really praying at all.

How many of us have gone through these stages? I sure have, and still am. The only thing is that now, I have come to know the Silent God a little better, only just a little, and this has made all the difference in my spiritual life.

C.S. Lewis has once said:

“There is no question whether an event has happened because of your prayer. When the event you prayed for occurs your prayer has always contributed to it. When the opposite event occurs your prayer has never been ignored; it has been considered and refused, for your ultimate good and the good of the whole universe.”

It took one thing to understand what praying really meant, and why certain prayers are never answered. What it took was faith. Faith is the belief that God is Almighty. He is not Almighty because He answers your prayers and not because He has all the keys to unlock the doors on heaven and earth. His omnipotence is not conditional on what He can do with his omnipotence. It is because He can that He can also choose not to, and when you have the faith to know that God is good, then you can also believe that when God can but chooses not to, there is a divine reason for it; a reason that is good in His eyes.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says,

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Silent God is not a passive God. While we sleep, He is at work. Though God works in mysterious ways we cannot understand, it is by faith alone we are saved, not just on the large scale of salvation but from all our day to day concerns and frustrations in life.

Wherever God leads you, remember that He will raise you up and lead you to the door of righteousness. That door you are knocking on may not be the door God wants you to walk through, and it may be for several reasons but whatever that divine reason is, have the faith to let go if it isn’t right, trust God, and keep walking. Praying is not just about telling God what you want, but also about listening to what He thinks of your prayers. Listen to His small voice, and have faith to lead a life of righteousness.

Remember, God is good.