So, what have you got?

If you’re alive and walking God’s green earth, then He has a plan for you… His thoughts are of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And sometimes, that’s just hard to imagine. We look at our small lives, and wonder how in the world the God of all creation could possibly have a custom-made plan for each of us. Because we simply cannot fathom how we can be of any use to Him. We may even think, “I have positively nothing to offer.” Because times are hard, right? And the cost of living is rising. And because we’re so busy, time has become a commodity. Since we feel constraint, perhaps we hold back. But I know in my bones that holding back cannot be part of God’s custom-made plan. And as such, with regard to contributing to God’s kingdom and His plan, I just have to ask myself a question. I’ll pose the same to you. “So, what have you got?”

I can speak only for myself here, but at the basest level, I have me. And I have a pulse. And because I am living and breathing, I have God-given life. At the very least, I have that, right? And so, indeed, I possess life. And God has placed me strategically on this earth… for His purpose and His plan. He wants me to use what I have, which is life.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”- He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:6-12

So I see. I am but a clay jar housing life, but also, so much more. Because inside, there is light and knowledge of God’s glory, and the face of Jesus through His death and His life, and God’s power. And I have spirit… the Spirit. All of this is contained within me, an earthen vessel, to be used for God’s glory. But He doesn’t want me to keep this treasure to myself, for it’s to be shared.

“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”       John 7:38

God wants for me to lavishly pour out these treasures, so that they splash onto and into the clay jars surrounding me. Because what I possess should be doled out freely… until everyone I come into contact with is drenched. I can be emptied, poured out as a drink offering, without the fear of drying up. Because the Spirit is endless. And I believe. And so, this is what I have… a river within me, and there are those who thirst.

There’s the story about a woman who lived long ago. We find her in the fourth chapter of 2 Kings. She was near the end of her rope. Her husband died, her debt had mounted, and finally, the creditors were coming to take away her two children as payment. And so, she did the only thing she knew to do… she approached the man of God. And Elisha asked her, “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She said there was nothing… nothing, but a jar of oil. But whereas she saw only need, Elisha saw opportunity. He told her, “Go and borrow empty containers from everyone… from all your neighbors. Do not get just a few. Then go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour oil into all these containers. Set the full ones to one side.” And that’s what she did…

Long ago a woman filled empty jars with oil until there were none left. And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do today. See, God fills us – His clay jars – with His own oil. We have the Holy Spirit. And He can fill us to the brim. He can pour into us until there’s no more room and we’re overflowing. Because the Holy Spirit is not a commodity… Its supply is limitless. And so, now, when we contemplate the question, “So, what have you got?” We can answer… We have a river. And it flows from deep within… streams of living water.

Yes, God has a purpose and a plan… for you, and for me. We are His earthen vessels, each one made to be filled. Until there are none left…

At the end of your rope

Here lately, words of comfort escape me. Because I look around, and honestly, all that I see is struggle. It seems as if every person in my life is going through something, and this morning my heart breaks. Every person I know is suffering in some way… whether it’s doubt, bitterness, despair, overwhelmed, distrust, pain, disease, or something else… it’s there. All the people I love seem to be coming to the end of their rope. Do you know what that term really means? It’s when someone is at the limit of their patience or endurance. And this sums it up… my loved ones have just about hit the wall. Patience and endurance are running low, and for some reason, I am empty with regard to words of encouragement. As a matter of fact, it’s as if I, too, have come to the end of my rope. And so this morning, I did the only thing I knew to do. I cried. I lifted my voice to God and asked for His help. For me… and for all those that I know who are at the end of their rope. And I heard Him. He said, “Strength.”

It was the end of last week when I read the book of Ruth. She married a man named Boaz, and his name means, “In Him is Strength.” I entered the word “Strength” in my journal, and wondered if this was the word I needed to carry with me for my present season in life. And so now I know… it is. But not just for me… strength for them… and strength for you. Last week I read a blog that pointed to Psalm 27. This particular Psalm holds a special place in my heart because of the fall of 2010. My husband had a job interview with a company located in Northern Virginia and I wanted it bad. So we prayed beforehand, and we happened to use this Psalm. But before we even finished, I knew the answer was, “Not this one.” I knew it deep down because we prayed… “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”

Wait on the LORD and He shall strengthen your heart. Do you know that “wait” means to look for, hope and expect? I didn’t know that till a few years ago. To me, wait simply meant that… wait. But God says not to just wait. He says to look for Him, hope in Him, and expect in Him. He says He’ll strengthen our hearts. And we know (at least in our heads), that there is purpose in the wait. God doesn’t allow us to go through things for no reason. He’s working on us. As we wait on Him, we look to Him. We pray to Him. We ask Him for help… we ask Him for His strength. Because we cannot do it alone. We do not possess the strength to get through life on our own. Remember, it’s “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It’s “In Him is Strength”, not in me. And so we wait.

It’s recently that I’ve felt a glimmer of excitement. There’s a fresh hope in me. Because God has reminded me of His strength and power. Somehow, I forgot this most important truth. I became weary with my life and present circumstances. But it was yesterday through Psalm 21:1 that He reminded me… there is joy in His strength. It was through Nehemiah 8:10 that He reminded me, the joy of the LORD is my strength. He knew I needed to read this. Because I was coming to the end of my rope. And it’s obvious that all those around me are sliding down to the end of theirs, too. They’ve just about lost their grip in that no endurance remains, and their patience has run thin. They’ve become weary with their trials… they’re tired of their doubt and bitterness, sick of their distrust and despair, they no longer want to feel overwhelmed, and they don’t want to face another day of pain or disease. What LORD, can You offer as a word of encouragement? Because I’ve been feeling down, too. I don’t know that I have the words…

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases in strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

I have to smile when I read that last part… they shall run… they shall walk. Today those words have to be specifically for my dear friend. You see, she’s on crutches. And her God wants her to know He sees her. He is telling her that not only will she walk, but she will run. And may we all run. As we wait on Him, may we be expectant! As we wait on Him, may we have hope! And may we endure… because He will provide the strength.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27