When I was a boy, growing up in India, I often went to a potter's house near my high school. I was fascinated to watch him make clay vessels. During those visits, I never saw the potter take a hardened lump of clay and put it on his wheel to make something out of it.
John the Baptist sat in Herod's prison. Knowing that his life hung by a very thin thread, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" (Luke 7:20).
Two men went to the temple to approach God in prayer and seek His favor.
A well-known preacher flies into town for a citywide crusade.
One of our perpetual struggles as followers of Christ is acknowledging the gap between our current spiritual condition and the one God desires for us.
Abraham had just heard God's voice telling him to leave his country, his relatives and his father's house and go to a land God would show him. How was Abraham going to make the right decision? Logic told him to stay where he was and not listen to mysterious voices. Furthermore, for him to leave his relatives and father's house would mean that he had no one to protect and rescue him should he get in serious trouble. Besides, it made no sense to trade his present affluent and comfortable lifestyle for a harsh, nomadic existence.
One of our great difficulties in life is trying to understand Jesus Christ and relate to Him in terms of time and space. But time and space are only relevant to us as finite beings. God is everywhere, as the psalmist declares: "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psalm 139:7).
After we are saved and begin our relationship with God, we learn that our journey with Him has just started. We discover that even everyday, ordinary components of life—relationships, emotional security, accomplishments, our profession or position, financial stability or even our cultural or national heritage—can hinder us from fully giving our lives for His purposes and growing closer to Him. One by one, God calls us to walk away from them.
When the Lord calls us to serve Him, our hearts are overjoyed. We are excited and eager to do our best. But very soon we discover that things would go a whole lot smoother if circumstances would be more favorable—if finances weren't so tight, if John Doe with his strange ideas wouldn't be in leadership, if we wouldn't have to work beside Mary Major with her overbearing personality.
I am always intrigued when I watch the start of the marathon during the summer Olympics. All the runners appear to be in top physical shape, excited to represent their countries and determined to win the gold medal.
Several weeks ago, I found myself alone in a dark, quiet neighborhood—standing next to a car that refused to run. I had been driving home after our weekly prayer meeting when the engine in my 1962 VW Bug simply stopped. I felt helpless, frustrated and sorry for myself.