God take the junk of our lives and forms a masterpiece that no one else would even dream possible. I spitfire singer reminded me of that last weekend.
I was watching an interpretative dance to a Greater Is Coming sung by 17-year-old Jekalyn Carr, already an evangelist and songstress being proclaimed as the top ten new faces to watch. She wasn’t in attendance but the dance made a profound impression on me as did the words to the song.
The young lady dancing portrayed the anguish represented in the lines of the song and the beauty of the idea that greater things are in store for those of us who trust in God through everything that looks impossible.
No doubt about it, there is trouble in this life. We go through times where we are so shaken by events that we don’t want to listen to the news. We feel beaten to a pulp by idea that others are beaten and even beheaded for their faith. We feel pressed on every side, like the walls are closing in and there is no place to hide.
If everything was peachy keen, we wouldn’t know that God can and does have the power to deliver mankind from the issues we create. And we would have no concept of what it’s like to be on the bottom and be lifted high above the circumstances by the hand of our Creator.
In the first few lines of the song says,
“The olive has to go through three stages for its oil to run: It has to go through the shaking, the beating and the pressing. And just like the olive some o you may felt like you go through the shaking, the beating and the pressing. You’ve went through all of that for your oil to flow. Now your greater is coming.”
Does this song mean that God is responsible for shaking, beating and pressing us and the world around us so we understand how much bigger He is than us? I don’t think so. I believe it’s more along the lines of what happens when we cook.
When I use a colander to strain water from vegetables after they’ve been cooked, I do that to make sure I have only what I want left. The vegetables or noodles or whatever I’m straining are the important things I want to save. The water is of no importance.
The shaking does away with what we don’t want, leaving only what we do. When difficulties shake us to the core, we learn what is important. We learn what values are meaningful, how strong our faith is and how powerful our God is. We come out stronger for having gone through a shaking.
When I was in the hospital in 1999 and told I had five years to live if I didn’t lose weight, that was a shaking. I re-evaluated everything about my life to understand what was important.
This shaking was the first time I faced my weight issue head on and though it took many more years for me to get to where I needed to be, this was the moment I made the decision to live and do whatever it takes.
If a rude cardiac surgeon hadn’t told me my body was too big for my heart, I’m sure I would have succumbed to an early death and wouldn’t be writing this right now. God in His mercy let me remain on earth until I could understand the depth of my problem and how to turn it around.
I can just pictures my grandmother beating the dough as she kneaded bread. As a kid I thought she looked like she was mad at it. I tried kneading once, but my arms and hands were no where near as strong as hers.
There are times when we literally feel like we have been beaten up. I remember a boss I had at one time. My assistant and I had come in that morning at 6:30 a.m. to get the newsletter printed and ready to be mailed. We finished at noon and decided to take a long lunch.
We let the office secretary know what we were doing and when we’d be back. However, the boss came in at 1 pm and needed me for something. When I came back at 2 pm, he called me in and called me every name in the book.
When he stopped yelling, I told him why we were gone and what time we came in. He kept screaming. When I left his office, I felt beat up though he hadn’t laid a hand on me.
I prayed silently at my desk while the entire office looked at me sadly. I got up with new resolve, walked into his office and gave my two weeks notice. He told me I couldn’t leave and had to stay for another month.
I told him I could and the two weeks notice stood. The beating made me stronger. I stood my ground and in two weeks had a much better job.
When I make my protein bars, I use protein powder, almond butter, cocoa, honey, nuts and cinnamon. I have to use my hands to work all the ingredients together. When it’s done, I tear off a piece of wax paper and plop the dough on there in mound.
Then, I fold the ends and top over and begin to press it by pounding it on the counter top into a rectangular cube. I’m pressing it into the right shape so after freezing, I can cut off the amount I want to eat.
My freshman year in college I took News 101. I was going to be a journalist. We had to write a news story a day based on information the instructor gave us. My roommate and I would get the same grade every paper.
The problem was, she had no red marks on her paper and mine would look like the professor opened a vein.
I decided he must not like me and I could never make it in his class. So I decided to change my major. However, I needed his signature. I went in and presented him the form. I figured he’d be glad to get rid of me.
He asked why I was changing majors. When I told him, he explained that he knew my roommate would never continue with writing so he took no time with her paper.
“I know you will go on to be a great writer,” he said. “I take extra time with your papers so you will be an even better writer.”
I’m so thankful for him pressing me into shape. I’m the writer I am today because of John Parrish and other editors who honed and sharpened my work. The pressing has made me who I am today which is so much greater than a News 101 practice story.
“If it had not been for the shaking, I never would have been ready for the making,
If it had not been for the beating, I would have never knew how anointed I would be.
If it had not been for the pressing, I wouldn’t be able to walk into my destiny. He’s preparing me, preparing me, preparing me for greater.”
It’s not easy to look at the difficulties in our lives and realize they can be used for our good.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”1
Jekalyn’s song reminds me of one by another great gospel singer, Andrae Crouch.
“If I never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do. Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”
Do feel like your life is like a junkyard with so many difficulties you don’t know where to start. You’re in a great place. Your poised for greater things. You’re right on the cusp of being made into a masterpiece.
Can you see how God can use the junk you’ve gone through to make you into a better, stronger or more determined woman or man of God? Can you begin to see the masterpiece beginning to take shape?
Go HERE to listen to Jekalyn’s song, Greater Is Coming.
Go HERE to listen to Andrae’s song, Through It All.
1 Romans 8:26-28 MSG
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching & Accountability Group is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.