By Susan (first posted in Dec. 2007)
Heading south on the Tottenham Road early this week, I was talking to the Lord, as I often do when driving, when I felt an unusually strong sense of his presence. I experienced a surge of inexplicable joy, and I remember looking quickly down at the soft grey material covering the passenger seat and thinking that it wasn’t hard to imagine him sitting right there. It was that real.
“Lord, make me more like you,” I said. “Conform me to your image. I don’t want there to be anything between us. Not a single thing.” I paused at that point because I understood the seriousness of what I was about to say. After taking a brief moment to consider what it could mean, and knowing what it could be potentially be, I added, “whatever the cost”.
I knew I was praying for him to go deep into the hidden places of my heart - to bring things to the surface – out of the dark hidden places and up to where the Light is – the only place our sin can be dealt with. That can feel impossibly and unbearably painful sometimes, especially when we are faced with the pain and embarrassment we cause others by our actions, but it’s a necessary step to getting where we really want to be. With him. Nothing between us. No impediments.
God seems to let us get away with things sometimes. But eventually, because he cares about the long term, he fingers the things in us that need to come under his Lordship. Things we need to die to, in order to find true happiness and fulfillment in Him.
That prayer in the car was a few days ago. Today, came some of the response. It hasn’t been an easy day. On two occasions, I was forced to look smack dab at the centre of my “flesh” – that place where the stinking swill that consists of “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” is kept neatly under a lid. (the Bible says in 1John 2:16 that those three things are the source of everything that comes between us and a loving, but holy God). At least it feels like it’s all hidden under that lid. In truth, though, it’s a glass lid others can see through, and which isn’t at all neat. But we often, being far too merciful with ourselves for our own good, will turn a blind eye and tell ourselves its not really there.
Sometimes I think that disgusting container of swill is slowly being drained away… I am lulled into the deception that, “I’m getting better all the time”. But thank God for that dangerous prayer – that adventurous prayer, “Make me more like You”. A prayer God takes seriously and delights in answering. “Delights” in answering? Yes. Because he is committed to our holiness long term, not our happiness short term. Because he knows that is the only way we can truly live a life that’s blessed. Because he wants to shatter the deceptive illusions we blindly entertain and give us something incredibly real, incredibly valuable and incredibly lasting. He wants to form us into his own image – to get us into a shape that is useful to him in touching the lives of others and in bringing pleasure to himself. He wants us to "be" in his presence.
Talk to the pot on the potter’s wheel. That’s not an easy process to go through. It’s hard to submit to the potter’s hand – to allow the mars to surface – to submit to being smashed, then re-thrown onto the wheel with great force, in order to be centred and then to be worked over some more.
Tonight I’m feeling far from useful. Far from beautiful. I have some tough days ahead of me, taking responsibility for my actions, walking out the consequences of my “ways” that are still often so far from conforming to his ways. But I’m not in this alone. The Potter’s hands are all over me.
I have to believe that the final results are worth it all. To be a fitting vessel. A useful vessel. A vessel that is strong and endures the fire.
Even so, come Lord Jesus. Come into my heart to cleanse and renew. Help me to stop hurting You, and others, and myself. Get me ready for your coming. Don’t stop now. And yes, do whatever it takes.