I've got three words. Canton. Flea. Market. If those words don't mean anything to you, then my guess is you're not from around here in Mississippi. The Canton Flea Market is an arts & crafts show that takes place in Canton, Mississippi twice a year. This year the event will take place on May 13th and October 14th. With over 1,000 exhibitors and as many as 50,000 shoppers per market, you can tell that it's something we "small town folk" really get into.
There's a few particular vendors that I know will be there every year, and I love to go see what's new! One particular exhibitor is a lady who makes pottery with Scripture. Her stuff is absolutely beautiful! My mom used to buy things from her at the market and store them for gifts throughout the year. When I got married, my mother gave me a piece of this pottery. It's a soap dispenser for the kitchen sink with a scripture from Psalm 24 about having cleans hands and a pure heart. Ha! Pretty clever huh? I love that piece and use it everyday! Shortly after we were married, my mother gave me another piece of this beautiful pottery. It was a short little flower pot, short enough to sit on a counter and she had planted some monkey grass inside of it. Because my green thumb was smashed before I was born, I managed to kill the plant within a matter of a couple of months. This landed this beautiful piece of pottery underneath the kitchen sink in a cabinet. (Yes, the dead monkey grass is still in it! I guess I keep thinking it will miraculously revive itself one of these days...) The point of this story is that while both of these pieces of pottery started out as the same lump of clay, they were molded by the same potter, and they both have amazing beauty one ended up on top of the cabinet on display for everyone to see when they come into my kitchen while the other ended up underneath the cabinet where no one can see it. Now, don't you think that if I asked both pieces of pottery where they would like to be displayed that they would both want to be sitting out on the counter so everyone could see them? I think so. But they both can't. The soap dispenser can because it's purpose is to hold soap by the sink. The flower pot, on the other hand, is holding dead monkey grass right now. It can't sit out on the counter right now. It's purpose was to teach me that if you don't water a plant, it will die! (As if I haven't already learned that lesson enough lately!)
Here's my point. We all want to be like the beautiful piece of pottery sitting by my sink. Why? Because it's sitting out for all to see it's beauty! We all have a desire to be noticed for our talents and abilities. But what happens when the purpose that God wants us to fulfill doesn't allow us to be seen or appreciated by others? Are we still willing to let God use us?
"Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?" Romans 9:21 MSG
Do we feel like we have the right to question where God wants us to serve Him? Or do we instead feel like God loves us less or that we are less important because He has called us to serve Him in a place where no one sees what we do and we get no human praise for it? Here's the verse from Romans 9 in it's context:
"Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, 'Why did you shape me like this?' Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Romans 9:20-23 (MSG)
My natural response to this verse is, "But God, I want to be the vase for holding beautiful flowers! I don't want to be the pot for cooking nasty beans. Can I please be the one especially designed to show Your glorious goodness instead of being the one to show Your angry displeasure?!"
I'm reminded of Job's response to all the bad things he had to experience.
But Job replied, "You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2:10(NLT)
Here's the thing. Both pieces of pottery are serving their purpose. The soap dispenser is serving it's purpose of providing me soap when I need to wash my hands while being conveniently located on my kitchen counter. The flower pot is serving it's purpose of teaching me the importance of taking care of my plants so they won't die.
God's purpose for us is perfect. He alone directs our paths if we will let Him. Instead of fighting back with Him and questioning what He's doing in our lives, we can submit to His authority and His plan for us. We can trust Him. Even though we may not be completely enjoying being under the counter for a season, God hasn't forgotten about us. In fact, it's all part of His plan. He won't leave us there forever. Just until His purposes are accomplished.
Later in Romans 9 it says, "I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I'll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, 'You're nobody!' they're calling you 'God's living children'."
You see, the flower pot won't stay under my counter for much longer. Very soon I am going to plant a beautiful new flower in it (hopefully a Gerber!) and set it out on the counter for everyone to see. It will be much more beautiful than it was before when it had the monkey grass. It will be a vibrant new color, with fresh new leaves, and this time I will know how to better take care of it...like remembering to give it water daily!
What is it you are questioning God about today? Is it about where He has you in this season of your life? If so, remember that He planned for this season of your life. He molded you into the person that you are to be where you are right now and to accomplish His purpose. Instead of wasting this time complaining that He has forgotten about you, learn whatever He wants you to learn right now. Do whatever He has already asked you to do. Don't waste anymore time feeling sorry for yourself that you aren't sitting on the counter on display for all to see, because God is working a much greater purpose in you than what you could plan for Yourself. Believe it and walk in His promises today.