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Words of Encouragement | The Mug

zxcdIt was my husband’s birthday this month. I decided to get him something from the heart for his gift; so I chose to go to the paint your own pottery shop here in town. Searching through the options on the shelves, I selected a coffee mug. He loves coffee so this would be perfect!

Now, I needed to make a decision of what to paint. I know his favorite colors are red and black, so that would be the colors. There were books to look at in order to help get the creative juices flowing; I picked this curly design and placed a heart in the center of the mug.

I started by painting the red on the mug; leaving the white to show through in a shape of a heart. Then I put black paint on the handle and around the rim. I pulled out the fine-tipped, black paint marker and began to make curly designs on the red paint. I had a picture in my mind; but for the life of me it was not looking quite like my image.

This stuff is tedious work, people! The tip of the marker kept getting clogged with the red paint (It stays a chalky texture until it goes in the kiln).  I began feeling super stressed. Elijah, the 9 year old boy I had with me finished his shark and was getting antsy. We decided it would be a great idea if he selected another item to paint. My mono-vision contacts, from looking close then far away, were making my eyes feel over stimulated. I am sure that you have felt that feeling before; you have high expectations and nothing seems to be going right. You can physically feel the stress. Then it happened. I put my finger right into where I painted and smudged the design. Talk about feeling irritable, I wanted to cry and throw the mug away. Not quite sure what I was thinking, but I resolved the mistake by putting a FLOWER over the smudge. Yes, on my husband’s manly mug…a flower. But one flower wasn’t enough; I had to balance it out and put several flowers on it.

Finishing off, I put his name at the bottom and painted a black rim at the top with red dots on the inside. I hated it. All I saw was “pink” paint, flowers, and it was definitely not the image I had in mind for this gift. My mom was with me. We both were laughing as we retold the situation to my husband and my dad. All of the “what I should have done’s” were mentioned. I should have done a different design. I should have just put my name on it and re-made him a manlier one. I should have put hearts instead of the flowers. I should have dropped it…on and on. Tim just laughed and told me he would love it; even when I told him that it looked like a pig threw up curly-ques.

I went to pick up the mug at the shop. The owner, as she pulls my artwork out of the box, says, “And this one turned out so nice!” I couldn’t believe it! And, I was surprised as I looked at it. The pink was bright red and the black was way more muted. The curly-ques were much milder than they were before it went into the kiln. It did; it actually looked pretty good! I got into the car and called my mom after sending her a text message with a picture of it!  We talked about the significance of the fire. Interesting, right? Just like in life as we have situations that paint us, decorate us, fail us, and even cover up the mistakes with new attempts to do things correctly. Then God, fully in His amazing grace, comes when we allow Him to and puts a coat of plain glaze right over top of our “artwork”. Then, He puts us in the kiln. Fire is never comfortable; but boy does the pottery come out beautiful afterwards! The glaze makes everything nice and shiny; even the colors change. His plans are always the best.

The “game-changer” in this situation is the willingness to be put into the fire. The Bible talks about not getting comfortable but allowing God to move us into His image.  You read through scripture and there is story after story of God calling people out of their comfort zones. Read Daniel 3 for the story about three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who literally went into the fire!  Their willingness, obedience and faith in God resulted in changed lives of many people. I am sure their “mug” (situation) didn’t look too good before and as they were taken into the fire! But what a glorious story after!

I was driving down the road and heard the song by 7eventh Time Down called “God Is On The Move.”  While I love the song, it really struck me that WE need to be “moving” along with Him.  James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  So often we see husbands who get involved in seeking Christ-likeness and only do painting. They never seem to allow God to put the glaze on and certainly when it gets too hot from the fire, they become defensive and sometimes even quit. God certainly IS on the move. He wants to do BIG things in our lives. Remember the quote, “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”; well, it is like that with our quest to Christ-likeness. God has even warned us of this in scripture. Although there are many verses that allude to this hardship; one is Acts 14:22, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

In closing, the question is: Do you want to go through life feeling like you are just painting (or playing Christian)? Along with this come feelings of anxiety, frustration, emptiness, like giving in/throwing in the towel (breaking the mug), insecurity, dissatisfaction, etc. God has such a better picture in mind! Stay the course and allow Him to finish what He has started. Follow Him.  As the song says, “God is on the move, on the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move; in many mighty ways.” He does take us into the fire. It isn’t always easy; but discovering your Spirit, for husbands knowing and understanding the spirit of your wife, and knowing and learning God’s Spirit is AMAZING! I am so glad I didn’t throw away the mug. Tim loved it when I gave it to him. And so it is with God’s ways; the blessings are huge and so worth the fire!