I recently listened to a preacher talk about a time in his life when he suffered from depression and anxiety. He mentioned some of the great preachers of the past, like Charles Spurgeon, who suffered in the same way. He talked about the struggle to preach under that burden and how he so often felt like a hypocrite in the pulpit. But he kept doing it because, though he didn't understand why and certainly didn't feel worthy, he knew that God wanted him to do it. He talked about those moments when suddenly you know that God is speaking, directing, guiding, you know those moments are a gift and even though you don't feel worthy of it, you are thankful.
It made me think of a time I walked along the north shore of Lake Huron with my brother, looking for pieces of driftwood that he could carve. I picked up what I thought would be a great find - it was a short piece of two by four that looked as though it had just come off the planer. It didn't look like it had been in the water very long. But my brother rejected it and as we walked he taught me what to look for. "I need the pieces that are scarred," he said. "Burnt is even better. It's the scars and discoloration that give the finished piece character and beauty when you carve the wood. Look for the pieces that aren't perfect."
We've all heard that expression, "God uses cracked pots," and we can all be thankful that it's true. God uses our flaws and failings to show a needy world that He is in the business of restoration and recovery. He cuts through the scars and charred places to the soul that is being refined. He used the pain of that preacher, even as he was in the midst of a dark time, to teach and lead and even heal his congregation.
He uses those of us who write in the same way.
We have probably all had times when life got messy and complicated and almost too hard to endure. We've had times of doubt and confusion and perhaps even times when we were too angry with God to do anything for Him. Those times aren't easy and they will seem as though all creativity and sensitivity have been pressed out of us. But it is these very times that result in deep roots that are able to reach to the nourishment that is buried and draw it up into our souls where it is useful and able to be passed on.
Are you going through a tough time? Know that God is at work. Know that the result will be a blessing to you and to those whom God wants to reach through you. Hold onto the goodness of God and be encouraged.
"These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:7).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone has just been released. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia's website