The Crown of Life

Wow, it has been quite a while since I was on here. Lots has happened, but instead of writing the whole long update, I am going to talk about something I read this morning. That seems to fit with the theme of the blog, anyways. (P.S. – I promise to keep up with the blog more this summer. I need to do something other than watching Friends on Netflix.)

So today was a typical, uneventful day. I woke up in the morning and ate some eggs and drank some tea, just like every other day. Then I sat down for my quiet time, thinking it would be just like every other quiet time. But that thought gave me pause – quiet time in no way should be “ordinary” or “normal”. So instead of diving right into my well-worn bible, I sat still and prayed that God would guide my time in His word and give me something to read about that I have been needing to hear. And instead of opening up to the chapter in Romans I am currently studying, He led me to read James 1.

Preface: I love James, but I have only ever read through it, not dove deep into the meaning and application behind its words. I started reading, with my tea steaming to the left of me and my journal on the right, pen poised and ready for writing. But as I started reading, I felt the world melt away. I felt His presence come into the room, sweep me up, and whisper, “Come, let me teach you something.”

I might’ve read that chapter 7 times before I wrote anything down. Wow, what powerful stuff. For everyone that doesn’t have a bible handy, let me recap. James wrote this beautiful letter to the first Christians living on the outskirts of Palestine. By verse 2, he has dove right in and is giving hope to all those enduring trials and temptations – which may be one of the most encouraging things to hear as a Christian today, because I don’t know anyone that isn’t struggling with something. One of my favorite verses from the passage was verse 12, where James says:

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

The crown of life. Sure, we have to endure trials and fight off Satan’s temptations, but we get to spend eternity with the one true King. That is pretty awesome. He then moves on to talk about the difference between listening and doing. Another one of the many verses I highlighted was verse 22, where James says:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

You can’t get much more clear than that, friends. Listening to God doesn’t mean anything if you turn around and completely ignore what he says. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it is much easier said than done. Of course it is! Life is hard and full of suffering and moments of self doubt and failing organic chemistry. But the beauty is that from all this, we get to learn and grow closer to God and our eternal future.

I am going to post this, and things will go back to normal for a while. I’ll be tempted to eat the entire tub of icing in the fridge, and I’ll want to watch trashy TV shows instead of doing something productive or intentional with my time. The difference is that now I have some fuel to help me wage my war – the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” ~ Isaiah 64:8

Tonight I was reading my Bible before bed, and I stumbled on this verse as I was finishing up Isaiah. I thought to myself – what a cool image! We are put in God’s able hands, and through His strength and His time and effort, we will become beautiful works of art. (Pause to go back to one of my favorite verses of all time ~ “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”). The Lord has really worked in my life, changing and molding me and shaping me into this beautiful young lady, so that I can live my life for Him.

Last week, I went over to an old friend’s house, and he has a ceramics wheel (Is that the proper term? Probably not). Anyways, I was so excited to make my first beautiful masterpiece, so I quickly watched my friend do it, decided it was a piece of cake, and then sat down, confident in my abilities as a potter. Man, what hard work! I never realized how much time, and especially patience it takes for a piece to really come together. I messed up multiple times, got frustrated, and almost gave up. But then I centered myself, and let the patience really guide me. When I was finished, I had a beautiful, albeit lopsided, new salad bowl. I was worried about the lopsidedness, but my friend assured me that it’s uniqueness is what would eventually give it its beauty. I was so proud of that dang salad bowl that I almost failed to realize what had actually happened. Enter biblical metaphor…

1) I spent time and energy making a beautiful piece of art. (God made us painstakingly, sparing no detail.)

2) My art was imperfect, but still will serve the purpose that I intended for it. (God’s art was created in His image, but sin flawed us and made us imperfect. That being said, we are still masterpieces, put on Earth to live a life for God.)

3) It was severely flawed, but its flaws are actually what make it beautiful. (God loves us despite our flaws, and if sin didn’t exists, we would have no reason to be close to God.)

All in all, I love this passage as it shows us humans as being beautiful, despite our flaws. God has spent an infinite amount of time, molding, crafting and shaping us. And He does not stop until it is serving His intended purpose – even if the “clay” resists His initial attempts. There is redemption for everyone, and through Christ, everyone is saved.