I’ve always been a procrastinator. I commit myself to do something, but it’s often hard to follow through and complete the task. Sometimes I get angry with myself because I’m not accomplishing everything I think I should. I picture God looking over my shoulder, shaking his head impatiently because I’m not getting enough done. I even start my prayers at night saying, “This was a good day, Lord” because of what I accomplished, or “This was a bad day, Lord” because I fell behind in my work.
What a sad way to live!
I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets caught up in the idea of working for the Lord. We read about the unfaithful servant in Matthew 25 who was reprimanded for not making good use of the talents he was given. In the same chapter we see people being judged for not feeding the poor, being gracious to strangers, or visiting prisoners. In the Bible we’re given list after list of things we should do and things we shouldn’t do. It’s very easy to think we somehow have to earn God’s love and acceptance.
We know that salvation comes from faith, not works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9). But what about after we’re saved? Does God have a list of things we have to accomplish to be good children? Is he angry when we don’t work hard enough, or accomplish enough, or do some specific thing he wants us to do?
After many years of wrestling with these questions, I’ve come to a conclusion. God does want us to obey his commands and do good works, but not because of what he wants us to accomplish. Rather, it’s what he wants to accomplish in us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 3:20 adds, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” You see, God is doing a good work, creating something of eternal value, and you are that work!
As it says in Isaiah 64:8: “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
I love to watch hand-thrown pottery being made. What starts out as a lump of hard clay is warmed and softened in the potter’s hand as it spins on a plate. The clay has to stay warm and pliable, and it has to keep moving, to become the finished product the potter has in mind. The finished pot might be used to hold food or water, or fresh flowers, or maybe even gold and silver, but the potter will always have a special place in his heart for the pot itself. It’s the work of his hands, and it has great value to him apart from the work the pot does.
So today, if you’re stressed out about having too much to do, or you’re trying to do something that seems too big or too difficult, or perhaps you’re wondering if God even has a purpose for you, take a deep breath. Thank God for working in your life. Then loosen up, relax your shoulders, and be the warm, moldable piece of clay God wants you to be. Whatever good work you’re trying to do today isn’t as important as the good work God is doing in you. He isn’t waiting up in heaven to yell at you for missed opportunities or undone work, he’s anxious to show you off as the special, unique, and much loved work of art you are.