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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Aged Clay is Better: But It Stinks!

Posted by admin in August 3rd, 2009
Published in faith, Uncategorized

Effects of Aging Clay: aging lends better workability to clay. To age clay, it is left open to the air for a day or two after mixing. This allows microscopic organisms to move into and grow within the clay. These organisms add more plasticity to the clay. The one drawback aged clay has is that it stinks like swamp mud. Many potters mix their clay, let it develop a colony of organisms, then store it for one to six months before using it. Aged clay is much better to work with.

In May I turned 50 (what is that in clay years?). Milestone. New Chapter. New Phase. New Era. New Decade. Midlife. Changing. I didn’t think turning 50 would be that big ‘a deal. So what? It’s just a number. You’re as young as you feel, right? I guess I thought that by the time I was 50 years old I’d be a much better Christian than I am now. I thought I’d be Super Christian or something. When I first started really, earnestly walking with God at 21, and hungering after Him, I’d think about getting older and always assumed I’d get better…a better follower of Christ, a better person, a better human being. But I’m not better. Truthfully, I’m worse in some ways. WHAT HAPPENED?!?

I read an article transcribing a conversation between Larry Crabb, Dallas Willard and John Ortberg, “Fly on the Wall: A Discussion About Authentic Transformation.” See it at: http://www.crosswalk.com/spirituallife/1282957/page0/

Crabb hit the nail right on the head for me. He says,

“Well, when you talk about being honest, to begin with, it’s frightening to be honest about where I am. Just speaking about me personally, I’ve been saved now for about 50 years. I got saved when I was eight years old…It’s been 50 years since that happened. And when I get really honest about where I am, there are times I wonder if I have really changed in 50 years. Why can I still feel resentment? Why do I still treat my wife in ways I’m ashamed of? I wonder as I think about the whole topic of spiritual formation, how many people are like me and don’t want to ask, ‘Where am I spiritually formed?’ They don’t want to get into this issue because it feels despairing. Can I really, really change? Is that really a possibility? Who do I know that makes my tongue hang out with a holy envy? Can I really be like that person? Wow! It’s a very frightening topic, really.”

It’s a really scary, spooky, frightening topic Larry! Spiritual formation is so much more than a check list of do’s and don’ts. It’s so much more than discipline in reading my daily devotions, praying my lists, keeping my eyes clear of filth and my ears free of profanity. Spiritual formation is about allowing the great Potter (God, not Harry) to come into my very deep dark personal and private life and to form me in His image. That, my friend, is hard stinkin’ work. “Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right spirit within me.” Maaaan. This is where I need to let the Holy Spirit into the secret places of my heart and mind and do some real house cleaning. This is where the Living God chooses what goes and what stays. But it’s not just about cleansing, it’s about forming, creating, recasting my thoughts and attitudes and reactions. I’m with Crabb, I thought I’d be a much better Christian by now and yet I still struggle with resentment, anger, backbiting, fear, selfishness and worst of all…lack of faith.

My husband once asked me about a friend, “Why is she so fearful?” Because the worst thing a person can imagine happened to her! Once the worst thing imaginable has happened to you, as a Believer, you know it can happen, you know that you’re not in some sort of protective bubble and when the worst has happened, you know exactly what to fear. Is fear really a lack of faith, or just a harsh dose of reality? Age does that to us. Life does that to us. At 21, I had the faith that could move mountains. I ran with the chariots (Jeremiah 12:5)and never got winded. But today, I have seen those mountains not move, but actually grow! And running with the chariots I got hit and knocked down a few times. Once I got run over. Broke a bone. In difficult times in each of our lives our faith is not tested, but tempered. The fire of the heartache is supposed to make our faith stronger, but in some cases, it just leaves a first degree burn. So at 50, I see my faith and my walk with God differently. It’s quieter, not so much hopeful as it is confident. Deeper, yet not as lovely to the eye. I used to think of my relationship with Christ as a big old oak tree—strong, stable, unmovable. After three decades, I now see my relationship with Christ as a weeping willow—bendable, flexible, and sometimes stooped over. It’s not bad, but it’s different. I long for the passion, I long for the fire, I long for the hinds feet (Psalm 18:33) I once had to scale mountains and run and not be weary. I long for the energy of a new faith that is bright and shiny and an eagerness to share it with anyone and everyone. Does that faith tarnish like unused silverware in a china cabinet drawer? Does it morph into something more practical and realistic? I don’t know. I like what Larry Crabb says in the rest of the article I referenced earlier:

“He [God] allows failure. Your success when you write a good book or a good sermon can fill that hole for a time, but never permanently. I know in my own experience probably, [the first of] the two major things was our older son’s rebellion. For five years I was terrified that he would kill himself. He was expelled from a Christian university. He went to Taylor because we were told it was 50 miles from the nearest sin. I really tried to do it right. For family devotions I purchased an overhead projector. But when this happened [rebellion], I was humbled by the recognition that I was not sufficient. The other one was my brother’s death. Two weeks after he died, I said to my wife, ‘I can’t sleep tonight. There are tears I’ve not yet shed, and I don’t know what they are.’ I got up and went to my study and got my Bible. I didn’t know where to turn. Finally, with tears that were convulsive, I found Hosea 7, where he said, I long to redeem you, but I can’t so long as you wail on your bed, but do not cry from your heart. And I was crying from my heart, and I said, ‘I know you are all I have, but I don’t know you well enough for you to be all that I need.’ And then, ‘Lord let me find you.’ And that was the next level of commitment or resolve or intention…”

My desire, in this my 50th year, is to find the next level of commitment or resolve or intention—to hunger for that which will make me more like Him. To pant after Him Who is all I have and is all I need. Christ in me, the hope of glory. I pray the Potter never stops molding, trimming, shaping and heating me up. Funny thing about mended pots, we’re a whole lot stronger in the broken places. Peace.

5 users Responded In This Post

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172. big sister said,
August 3rd, 2009 at 2:31 pm

You know, at 54 I thought the same as you – I’d be older, stronger, wiser in the ways of the Lord…This blog hit me hard! I will read the article you listed…Today someone hung up on me as we were embroiled in a battle over who would pay for a seat in my car when I loaned it to someone (someone I love very dearly and means the world to me) – this person didn’t break the seat – a third party person did. After many harsh, hurtful words – the 2nd party hung up on me. I felt like I was in Bible Scripture Memory Verses 101 when, right before hanging up on me, the third party said “why don’t you do the Jesus thing and let it go” – this angered me. After having a few moments to re-hash the conversation, I realized that I’m 54 years old, dealing with the same junk in relationships and my responses to these relationships – I’m old and tired and want to let the old flesh go, you know, be so dead to self that the things of this world don’t have an affect on me or my life anymore. I called this person and said I wanted to do the Jesus thing and let it go. I wasn’t angry or upset and would be kind to this 3rd party if I saw them in the future. I feel that I am a broken pot in need of mending and want to be stronger in the broken places.
Thanks/

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174. texas sister said,
August 3rd, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Being 53 in Sept. I too thought I would be further along in this Christian transformation process that began in 1985.
I also have had bouts of miraculous faith, mountain moving instantaneous healing type faith, money appearing in your wallet when you knew there was none but He said, “Give” so I reached in and there it was to give!
All that maybe was for the heights, now that I’m older and more afflicted with the physical consequences of sin, I find that I am richer and deeper and fuller. Like a really rich broth full of nourishment that has drained every morsel of goodness out of the marrow of bones to flavor it.
I can walk and not grow weary…no running for me.
Walk is what I do.

I remember when big D turned 50 and your gift for him was a retreat. MY T turns 50 on Wednesday and I’d wanted to do the same for him.
Give him the gift of uninterrupted time with God. Can’t do it. Work and all.

Keep writing
I soak it up
c

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176. margaret said,
August 4th, 2009 at 7:38 am

Sweet Teri-thanks for stirring my thoughts.
here is a song I was singing yesterday(in my head)
Come Holy Spirit I need thee
Come Sweet Spirit I pray
Come with thy strength and thy power
Come with thy known gentle way

Come like a spring in the desert
Come to the weary of soul
Lord, let thy sweet healing power
Touch me and make me whole

Come Holy Spirit I need thee
Come Sweet Spirit I pray
Come with thy strength and thy power
Come with thy known gentle way

write on!
Margaret

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182. grannieannie said,
August 7th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I must echo the feelings in the responses above. I really thought I’d have it all together by now. But one thing I told my son-in-law the pastor: I do get up more quickly than I used to. At 58, I think I get back on track with a lot less wasted time than when I was 28. This is encouraging.

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191. admin said,
August 12th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Very encouraging Anne.

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