Tag Archives: compassion

The Potter’s Dozen

“My entire mission in life is to help women take over the world. Not by force…but with compassion, perseverance, and love.”  Kevyn Aucoin

Slowing down last week allowed me to connect with other women, which caused me to slow down even more and attract still others. The Spirit is teaching me that motion must cease before a bond can be created and only in stillness will two things adhere to one another.  The strongest bonds are not formed with C5H5NO2, an acrylic resin called cyanoacrylate (also known as Krazy Glue).  Instead, the strongest bonds are formed with an emotional compound called love.

A year ago, the church group I was in ended.  Soon thereafter, I started a new one with about ten women in it.  Many of the 50 or so women whom I had grown accustomed to meeting with regularly, crossed over to other groups, began leading their own groups, or were otherwise plugged into another spiritual development ministry.  But about twelve women fell through the cracks.  I had received my calling, taken the training, formed a group, and pulled out of port to execute mission.  I called “all aboard”, conducted a head count and roll call for the current group, and never looked back.  Unfortunately, I am not sure that anyone else did either.  By slowing down, I realized that one of His precious dozen had been left behind.  Many of them were still standing stuck in the same cyclone, sensing the violence and destruction that can come from life’s storms.  Casting Crowns summarizes how abandoned and afraid many of them may feel:  Here I am Lord and I’m drowning in Your sea of forgetfulness. The chains of yesterday surround me.  I yearn for peace and rest.  I don’t want to end up where You found me.  And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight.  I know You’ve cast my sin as far as the east is from the west.  And I stand before You now as though I’ve never sinned.  But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way.  Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west?  ‘Cause I can’t bear to see the [wo]man I’ve been rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy I find rest.  You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other. – East To West

The Lord put it on my heart to reach out to them. I learned that a few have moved away.  Most are adrift and disconnected from the body, feeling cut off and uncertain of their worth in His kingdom.  Without support, they entered the spiritual poverty queue and without connection, they will remain there.  To find relief from the nooses of perpetual spiritual crisis, they will have to join forces with members of the body and make drastic changes in their lives.  Those members who are in secure vessels must turn around immediately, travel back, and offer what we can.  The willing and committed will welcome an invitation to be brought back into the fold, into the security that comes with connection to His people.  As Casting Crowns continues with, “I start the day, the war begins; endless reminding of my sin. And time and time again your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in.  Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way.  Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west?  ‘Cause I don’t want to see the [wo]man I’ve been come rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy I find rest, ’cause You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other.”

Reaching out to these women took my focus off of the trivial issues in my own life. What I have learned so far is that in many ways, they are just like me – clay the Potter is molding.  Without Him, we tend to make choices that make bad situations worse.  Without the guidance of His spirit, we chase the immediacy of now which can move us from financial hardship or spiritual distress into abject poverty or moral bankruptcy.  Backsliding even further once we recognize that we are in crisis, we jump out of His arms and begin looking inward for the answers.  We then seek a soother and allow our orifices take the lead role in our decision-making process.  For some, it is food or drink.  For others, it is an unevenly yoked relationship or an empty wallet full of plastic that won’t close.  For all of us, it is a boastful self-reliance that has an infinitesimal fraction of the capacity of our Maker.  We seek to cope in our space when He wants us to thrive in His arms.  “How often we expect big things from God without preparing for big things from him” – Beth Moore.  Matthew 6:33 says, 33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.”  (TLB)

What I am also seeing is that those who are seeking release, are eager to get reconnected. They look forward to the calls of encouragement and commit themselves to prayer.  The spirit is moving in them and is impacting their decisions.  The change of the internal landscape is, by default, altering their external backdrop.  Over time, they will learn their precious worth and embrace being the women God called them to be.  Through perseverance, they will learn there are so many gifts they have been given and the specific role they play in his kingdom.  They will learn to seek wise counsel and make faith-filled choices, enter into a deep relationship with God, get educated in His word, grow in their walk in community with others, and teach their children in His ways.  By showing them compassion, not judgment, we can encourage them back into His network.  But, it all begins with showing them love.

Through love, He heals the hurts that keep us anchored in the four corners of our lives. In His word, our minds are occupied and our hearts feel His grace.  When our spirits are alive we experience the success of true joy.  His love gives us the energy to begin to make faith-filled selections in other areas of our lives.  Whether it is getting a roommate or a second job, there is relief from dependence on that broke-down relationship.  By living in His word, we no longer feel the need to eat, drink, or shop through our feelings.  Through community with others, we are exposed to resources that help ensure our children are not hungry.  Leaning heavily into Him, with the support of His servants, allows us to thrive rather than just survive.  We can move from spiritual crisis to a place of stability through the trifecta of love, perseverance, and compassion.  “Whatever God is urging you to clear away cannot begin to be compared to what He ultimately wants to bring you” – Beth Moore.  We know “You’ve washed me white, turned my darkness into light. I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night.  I can’t live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals.  And I’m not holding onto You but You’re holding onto me… In the arms of Your mercy I find rest, ’cause You know just how far the east is from the west…”

Praying for and reaching out to the Potter’s Dozen has me here:

  1. Just because there is a loud clap of thunder or a large streak of lightning does not mean that the storm will last long or that it will be destructive.
  2. In the aftermath of violent storms, there may be a mess but it doesn’t have to be lifelong chaos.
  3. Crisis is designed to be a temporary state of extreme difficulty, not a way of life.
  4. “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike” – Maya Angelou

Now fellow fisherman, we are being called to be fishers of women. This is no proclamation that we have it all together.  It is also not a declaration to set out on long distance mission trips to postilatize our sisters in other countries.  It is a request to reach out to our neighbors in the cities and towns around us and share the good news and some of our abundance.  27 Don’t spend your life chasing food that spoils and rots.  Instead, seek the food that lasts into all the ages and comes from the Son of Man, the One on whom God the Father has placed His seal.  John 6:27

Shaken (Not Stirred)

Have you ever shown up, rearing to go – with an agenda in hand, prepared to predict others’ next moves and control the outcome of the experience you’ve just entered – only to encounter others who seem to be ill-prepared, slow on the uptake, or just flat-out lost? All too often, we start our days with a clean slate that we quickly fill up with our “to do” lists. We draw a small square and write the task next to it. Once the task is complete, we mark it off by placing an X inside the square. The object is to have as many boxes with Xs as possible at the end of the day. On those days, accomplishments mean the most. We don’t even consider the miniscule effort it would take to initiate an exchange with those running, seemingly stuck, in first gear. What does it take…a little patience.

What about the souls impacted by the pursuit of results that ignores their present day experience and lacks the attention, compassion, and kindness needed to embrace them into this moment? In that instance, what we don’t know may not hurt us but it could feel crushing to them. What we don’t know is what it took for them just to show up and be physically present in the situation that you and I are hurriedly moving and check-listing our way through. We think that slowing down and connecting causes us to lose time; when in fact, it more likely causes us to gain connection with the fragile souls around us. A sixty-second conversation, a slight touch of the hand, a smile, a soft-spoken “hello”… What does it take…a little kindness and attention.

Instead of listening and being a witness, we act… as the final arbiter. What we see, we label. What we hear, we snicker at. What we think we know, we judge. The reality is typically a deprivation of some sort resulting in a fog of confusion that consumes the rocky path that is this person’s journey right now. Our insensitivity can create storms of fear and shame of colossal proportion that causes greater withdrawal into the internal killing fields of doubt and regret located in their empty or broken hearts. Our harsh words sound like the echo of thunder. Our insensitive tone scorches like a bolt of lightning – feeling like the swell of misery or a flood of destruction. Some hide the pain behind good manners with a smile while others change colors and lose affect. Some resiliently snap back. Others, well…not so much. What does it take…a little sensitivity.

Job 16:3-5 tells us, “3 Your long speeches never end! Why do you continue arguing? 4 I also could say the same things you say, if you had my troubles. I could say wise things against you and shake my head at you. 5 But I would say things to encourage you and give you hope. (ERV)

MercyMe captures the thoughts of the resilient with faith, praying for escape, but who were blessed with the upbringing in His teachings in I can Only Imagine:

I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side. I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me. I can only imagine… Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine…

Oh how blessed we are when we encounter the resilient. They are the faces of God’s grace. Because of the single set of footprints in the sand, we are able to push the restart button; the one that allows us to say, “I’m sorry! Let me try this again”; one that allows the tape to replay carols of compassion instead of chords of criticism, the harmony of forgiveness instead of the sharpness of fear, or melodies of stillness instead of the staccato of shame. Psalm 37:24-26 tells us, 24 If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand. 25 I have been young and now I am old. And in all my years I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves him; nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry. 26 Instead, the godly are able to be generous with their gifts and loans to others, and their children are a blessing. (TLB) What does it take…a little compassion.

I dare not mention the frail. We have not walked a mile in their moccasins and therefore do not know their circuitous, tumultuous journey or their condition upon arrival. Third Day illustrates this point in I Need A Miracle when they sing: He lost his job and all he had in the fall of ’09. Now he feared the worst, that he would lose his children and his wife. So he drove down deep into the woods and thought he’d end it all and prayed, “Lord above, I need a miracle”. Through love, we can be that miracle. Our requirement is to refrain from placing His children in boxes and to put away the Xs. They are His essence, not inane objects bristled between tasks. We all have hearts that pump blood and chambers that long for trust-filled loving connections. A little warmth, kind words, and a smile may serve to obscure the shelves that house permanent solutions when temporary problems are all that are on the table. Hebrews 12:14-15 calls us to: “14 Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone… 15 Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace…” (CEB) What does it take…a little love.

This recent revelation has led me to understand that we are called to:

  1. Serve as guiding lights to one another; not to serve as driving rains that obscure the vision of others and make their paths slick
  2. Serve with patience, kindness, compassion and sensitivity
  3. Pave the road according to His will, not our agenda
  4. Recognize that we each have different talents and separate challenges And
  5. Remember to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

Storms will blow in with gale force winds that lift the covers of certainty off our circumstances. The driving rains will spin our schedules into a whirlpool that drains our best laid plans. Hurricanes will blow ashore and knock out our power for long periods. Torrential downpours will cause landslides that we may never fully recover from. With capacity, faith, and other followers, weathering the storms is merely a foot race. Without the capacity to have faith, followers must be the candlelight for others from the edges to the eye.

Whether this seems sobering or intoxicating, a cocktail of one part forgiveness, one part faith, and two parts love, shaken (not stirred) over cubes of His grace, creates a smooth thirst-quencher that is easy for any consumer to swallow. Psalm 107:28-30 says 28 Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and he saves them. 29 He calms the storm and stills the waves. 30 What a blessing is that stillness as he brings them safely into harbor! (TLB)