We're like jars of clay. Created perfectly by the Creator. But when we've brought hurt upon ourselves or other people have hurt us (the bible calls this sin), we break a little bit each time.
Jeremiah 18:6 (GNT)
"Don't I have the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter's hands.
Picture it like this.
We all have broken pieces that we carry around. Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, hostility, judgement, fear, offense, criticism. When others hurt us, their shards fall around our feet, cutting us.
It takes the Father's hand to lovingly and patiently sort the pieces out.
He carefully starts putting our pieces back together. He reshapes our jars as we seek Him. As we forgive and allow Him to heal us; as we extend compassion and long-suffering to those who have hurt us or continue to hurt us, and hand the pieces over, He renews us.
God needs to recreate us, rework us into a new jar - a mosaic piece of art that is pleasing to Him.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
We are His workmanship. Another translation says we are His 'masterpiece'.
Our Creator is intent on re-working us, piece by piece, towards His perfection. In the bible, that means maturity, or completion. The grout that holds our recreated mosaic jar together is our surrender and obedience. It's our willingness to allow Him to carry each shard and put it back in place where it was originally supposed to be, and hold it there. Our surrender - acknowledgement of bitterness, or obedience to forgive - is the recasting process that holds our pieces in place until our jar is reset. This is when we need to learn to 'be still' under His hand.
This stage of healing and growth may be one of the hardest moments. Perhaps things are still not what we'd like them to be - and yet God is asking us to relinquish the pain, the anxiety, the suffering and let Him take care of it in His way.
I've had many of those times in my life. I'm sure you have too. I went through court for the second time with my son's dad.
We had to go through counselling to communicate better because there was so much hurt and animosity between us. As I began that process with him I felt clearly led by God to apologise.
At first I was sure God must be joking. I had run from that situation and hadn't felt I had had any other recourse. It was him, not me, that should be apologising.
Yet, God made it clear to me this man had suffered and even though I hadn't done something 'wrong', he was still deeply wounded. God wanted me to extend a heart of understanding, and say sorry for that.
I left it until the very end of our first session. We summarised what we had discussed. We summarised what we had agreed to do. We made arrangements for the next session. It was time to leave. The counsellor and he started shuffling to get up and go, but I just sat there. Awkward. I finally said, 'I have something else to say'. There was a sigh, and they both sank back into their chairs. I said, 'I have to ask your forgiveness for hurting you.' Stunned silence. Then a tense pause as they waited for me to explain. So I explained. There was an ever-so-slight softening. He didn't say much, and I knew, even if he didn't, it was a moment in the spiritual realm that shifted something. I left knowing I had acted in obedience to God, even though I hadn't wanted to do it, and we didn't have a miraculous reconciliation. But I was glad I did it. I just had to leave it with God and understand there had been a reason, even though I couldn't see it.
Sometimes, the pieces of our mosaic may have to get reset a couple of times. They may set a little crooked if we don't sit still for long enough under His hand; if we haven't fully surrendered and allowed the time for each piece to set properly.
If you've seen a mosaic that hasn't been put in place properly, you'll see how a piece can stick out. It's not a smooth finish. We may have to be broken again. That's another painful experience showing us there's more work to be done yet, so that He can recast us and complete the work properly.
Let's have patience with the process, as He has patience with us. We can then more easily extend compassion towards others. We remember that He suffers with each one of us. His church, our family member, our neighbour, our friend who has hurt us - each of us have a unique place in His heart, even if you haven't received Him yet. He is not partial to anyone, other than to say He is fully loving and compassionate to each who follow Him (Acts 10:34,35). We are all an unfinished work of art. Beauty in the making.
It takes a heart and prayer of surrender to help us. The hopeful, sure promise is this:
Philippians 1:6 (ASV) "He who began a good work in you will perfect it, until the day of Jesus Christ."