Incongruent Things By Marcia Lee Laycock

Some time ago I was struck by the image on our church bulletin. It was a picture of a clay pot, with a scripture verse below it. I think I liked it and was moved by it because I love incongruent things – things that somehow just don’t fit.

You see the pot in the picture is quite ugly – it’s wrapped in burlap and has a twist of jute around its neck. It has no handles, and the neck looks a little too tall for the rounded base. But these are the words that go with it – “He shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2Timothy 2:21). The context of the scripture is well known. The Apostle Paul is warning his apprentice, Timothy, not to associate with “ignoble things.” He is telling him to avoid “godless chatter.” He goes on to exhort him to “preach the word.” All good advice for us to follow.

But that’s not what struck me when I saw that picture and read that scripture. (Which I suppose goes to show that we must be careful how we handle the Word). What struck me was another truth that I believe all of us can testify to. We’ve all heard the expression, God uses cracked pots. The pot in that picture does not look like a “vessel unto honor” or an “instrument for noble purposes,” as the NIV reads. The pot looks very common, very un-noble. It also looks well used.

Many of us tend to think that God will only use the ‘giants’ of Christendom to accomplish His purposes – those who are especially gifted – those who can speak well, write well and present themselves well. But God is not limited by our perspectives. He sees the heart, and looks for one that is humble before Him. That is all He needs to work mighty things.

We see this principle over and over again in the Bible. David was the youngest in his family, a mere shepherd boy when God chose him to be king of Israel. The woman at the well was an outcast in her town when God chose her to lead many to Jesus. The apostles were ordinary fishermen when He called them to be the leaders of His church.

Though we do not always look nor act ‘noble,’ God can and will use us to accomplish His purposes. Though we often fail and have motives that are less than pure, God can and will continue to teach us and lead us into places of amazing discovery and profound service. As a writer that fact gives me great hope. It also makes me want to bend my knee before a Savior who extends such amazing love and grace to us all.

He is, indeed a God who loves the incongruent things in life. In fact, He created them – things like you and me.

Commitment and Providence by Marcia Lee Laycock

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elemental truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.All sorts of things occur to help that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man or woman would have dreamed could have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.Boldness has genius, power, and magic to it. Begin it now.” Goethe

Let’s play what if. What if Abram didn’t pull up the tent pegs and set off from Ur. What if Noah didn’t pick up the hammer? What if Moses didn’t pick up the staff? What if Gideon didn’t climb out of the winepress and break down the altar to Baal? What if Joshua didn’t march around Jericho? What if Ruth didn’t go with Naomi? What if David didn’t take the provisions to his brothers on the front lines? What if Solomon didn’t build the temple? What if Shaphan the secretary didn’t read the book of the Law to Josiah? What if Josiah didn’t tear his robes? What if Esther stayed home? What if Daniel didn’t pay attention to his dreams? What if Matthew didn’t walk away from the tax collectors booth? What if Peter didn’t put down his nets?

What if you don’t take up your pen?

An Unpleasant Thought by Marcia Lee Laycock

W.O. Mitchell (writer of Who Has Seen the Wind among others) is quoted as saying – “the most constant state of an artist is uncertainty. You must face confusion, self-questioning, dilemma. Only amateurs are confident…be prepared to live with the fear of failure all your art life.”

Not a pleasant thought, is it? As writers, we all live with some uncertainty. We write an article and never really know its worth until someone reads it and makes comment. We stew about that book manuscript, wondering if any editor will think it worthy of publishing. We spend hours polishing a poem and wonder if we have wasted our time. We will, from time to time, face confusion, self-questioning and even dilemma, as Mitchell suggests, but we do not have to live in that state.

The writer of Hebrews told his readers that they, too, would face uncertainty, confusion, dilemma. They would face persecution and yes, the appearance of failure. Then he said, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10: 35-36) The writer of Hebrews is not talking about the self-confidence of a much-published writer, which can lead to pride and an over-blown ego. He is talking about the confidence “to enter the Most Holy Place.”

The reference here is to the inner sanctuary, the place where only a high priest could enter, and only once a year after much preparation. Even then, the priest risked death when he stepped on that holy ground. For there, there in that place, was God. And how is it we can have such audacity, to enter with confidence? “…by the blood of Jesus.” (Heb. 10:19)

A writer who is Christian does not have to submit to a perspective like Mitchell’s. As believers, we can have confidence, not in our own talents, but in the fact that God is there. He is approachable, accessible, and He has promised to use our gifts and talents to serve others, to His glory. Therefore there is no need for fear of failure, nor of success. Our confidence is in Christ. Our calling is to work in obedience and humility.

The writer of Hebrews continues…. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” As writers, we have all been given a spur – the gift of communication – to use for the sake of others and for the sake of our most faithful God. May He find us faithful to that task.