“From Bumps and Bruises to Grace and Glory”
Lane M. Holland, M.S.N., M.Div.
Anybody ever had an old pot or pan that even though it had served you well the time came to discard it and replace it with a shiny new utensil? The old pot or pan with its bruises, dents and scars went into the garbage and the new one came out of the box and was put into service.
There are a few cooks who realize that time only serves to season a particular utensil and though it is no longer shiny or fancy its purpose is unchanged. The meals that come from its use are just as delicious and have the additional joy of holding pleasant memories of family gatherings and times of preparation in the kitchen.
In the economy of God our nicks, dents, bruises and scars are not seen as irreparable. This God we serve takes us, and instead of replacing us or putting us on the garbage heap, lovingly remakes us and finds use and purpose for us within His kingdom. What others deem as unsightly God, like those wise cooks finds beauty in our scars and in His wisdom works it into a vessel that can find honor in the Father’s house.
The prophet tells it to us this way:
1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel (Jer. 18:1-6)
This passage should bring comfort to us. It assures us of the love extended to us and the blessed grace of God that continually reaches out to encourage continued trust in the Lord. Every place that we would want to call shame becomes opportunity for God to rename redemption, grace, restoration, wholeness, healing or completion.
The unlimited compassion of God through Christ is revealed when our nicks and dents are seen from heavens viewpoint. The sovereign plan of God takes our history that we would desire to forget or dismiss from our memory and reshapes it. Things that once looked like candidates for the garbage heap are transformed into testimonies of victory and ministries that can lead others to a place of hope. The Psalmist tells us that the Lord gives us both grace and glory (Psalms 84:11) which is instrumental in our transformation.
Jeremiah’s truth reminds us of the willingness of God to work with a people that should have been castaways. God affirmed Israel as His own peculiar treasure and through Christ we are also continually affirmed. This should give us hope not only for ourselves but for the many people we encounter who have almost given up on finding normal again.
When we take a fresh look at the cross we see how God made available the best of heavens resources to present us completed through Christ. The New Testament writer gives us another version of the profound truth expressed through Jeremiah:
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11 KJ V)
Paul reminds the readers in this letter that they had a history that was not so beautiful. Yet the plan of God closed the door to their past and they received a brand new existence through the work of the Potter. We, like the Apostle’s original audience are also washed, set apart and pardoned through the all sufficient name of Jesus and the work of the Spirit of God. The simple truth is found in the phrase “…such were some of you…”. In spite of our past there is a bright future for those who have been washed, sanctified and justified.
If you have been struggling with living too much in your past or seeing dents and bruises instead of grace and glory I would suggest you take a visit to the Potter’s wheel. Whether you plan a real outing or take a trip with your holy imagination, see all the ways the Holy Spirit is transforming issues from your past. Ask for the assistance of the Lord to see with eyes of faith how your past is becoming help and hope in your future.
When we realize how much has been done for us the scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:11a gives us cause to rejoice “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…”. Life with all of its transitional moments should never overwhelm us as followers of Christ. We can see the dents with the hope of grace and glory. We have the joy of exchanging bumps and bruises for beauty and the oil of joy. Redemption is our constant hope and helps us see the reality of this promise:
“…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”(Isaiah 61:2-3)