When you are tempted to take a shortcut you need to be aware that a shortcut is not always the best way. And the easy way is not necessarily the best way either. We live in a time where almost everything is high-speed. Microwaves, InstaPots, high-speed internet, overnight wealth – you get the idea.
If you have read very many of my posts or seen my YouTube channel you know that I love to share ideas that are cheap, fast, and easy.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble but cheap is not always best.
Most of the time you get what you pay for unless it that’s hidden treasure at a garage sale where the seller has no idea of the value of the said treasure. Frugal is not the same as cheap!
Fast is not always the best way, either.
There are some things that simply cannot be rushed. You can’t proof yeast bread in the microwave. Pregnancy still takes 9 months. Shortcuts are not always what they seem.
Easy! How many times have you longed for that EASY button?
Why does this have to be so hard? This is so frustrating. I know I am not the only one that has felt like that.
Let me turn back the clock for a bit.
It was the early 1980’s and I had been dabbling around with ceramics for a little while and I wasn’t really proficient at it, but I was enjoying this new-found skill. As it turned out, that craft would serve me and my family well in the 90’s. It provided a nice income for over 10 years. But, that’s another story for another time.
My friend, Mila had opened her own shop and called it “Foxfire”. That shop was a place that I loved to go and hang out and create new “dust collectors” and “knick-knacks”. It wasn’t like I didn’t already have enough.
One beautiful East Texas morning, I decided to take a trip to Foxfire and lend her a helping hand. She had entrusted me with a key to her shop so when I arrived before she did, I let myself in. I looked around to see what project might need my help. I noticed that the kiln lid was closed and the control knobs were in the “OFF” position, indicating that the firing process was completed, or so I thought. Did I know what I was doing? Not really! But how hard could it be to just unload the kiln?
She had fired a load of greenware to bisque. That’s the first firing before the piece is glazed and fired again. This is a very important step to prepare the piece for its future function or use.
The process is something like this:
The very fragile greenware pieces are carefully placed onto shelves inside the kiln. It is called greenware because at this stage the clay is green – not mature. There are two separate firings. During the first firing, the temperature is gradually increased over several hours or even overnight. There is a warming up period several hours, then 2 hours on low heat, 2 hours on medium heat and 3 hours or so on high heat until the correct temperature is reached. Ideally for low fire clay that is 1855 degrees. That’s hot!
Now, don’t look at me with those glazed over eyes because I am going somewhere with this.
Since this occurrence happened in the 80’s it was just before electronic panels were installed on kilns. So, Mila’s kiln used knobs to regulate and increase the temperature
and cones to know when it was finished. That’s all I am going to say about that. Stay with me.
As I took the treasures out of the kiln I noticed that they didn’t sound right as I set them onto the counter. The pieces had a dull sound. And the color didn’t look right either. But, I thought it was the lighting in the shop. Remember, I am new at this craft. I had taken about half of the pieces out when Mila walked in.
I was so proud of my efforts until I heard her, “OH NO!!!”
Me, “What’s wrong???” “The kids messed with the knobs and turned the kiln off too soon. They are not ready to be glazed. Like this coffee cup – it’s not strong enough. One bump and the handle will break off. And these pieces, if I glazed them now and fired them, the glaze would craze and crack.” Me, “Well, shoot! Is everything in the kiln ruined? What can we do?”
“Oh, we will just reload it and start the process again. It will be okay.” There was no shortcut to this process. It had to start all over again.
We had a wonderful visit as we reloaded the kiln and started the process all over again.
As I was driving home that afternoon I began to think about the firing process and the potter. I felt like I heard Him say, “Sometimes I have someone in the kiln (the process) and some well-meaning person comes along and in an effort to be helpful (counseling or advise) messes with their knobs. Then, because they are not ready for what I have planned for them, they have to go through the process all over again.” I said to Him, “Lord, I will try my very best to NOT mess with other’s knobs. Please, don’t let them mess with mine!”
So, you might be asking yourself, “What does this story have to do with shortcuts?”
Because we are impatient and we want the fastest and easiest way. Spiritual growth takes time
Jeremiah 18 “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear[a] my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”
In this scripture, we see that God wanted to speak to Jeremiah through the potter and the potter’s creation. Something happened and the vessel was marred or damaged in the potter’s hand and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. I don’t understand all of that but I do know that we are safe in His hands and no one can take us out of His hands.
God assured Jeremiah that He could also remake or reform the nation of Israel just like the potter refashioned the clay. He prepared it for the fire. The vessel has to go through the firing process to be useful.
“The process: Ceramic vessels must be fired to make them durable. Potters need to know the processes taking place in order to be able to control the outcome… Clay goes through several physical changes when fired. ”
Are you in the process of preparation. Is God turning up the heat on you? There are times when the people of God will have to go through some very hot flames, they keep getting hotter and hotter.
So what do we do when it gets too hot? First, remember His promise “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2b
It doesn’t say “If you go through the fire,” it says, “WHEN you go through the fire…”
…take advantage of the opportunity to get stronger and braver.
Personally, I have been through the fire numerous times and I have wondered, “How long is this going to last?” “How much more can I stand/” God, you must think I am a heck of a lot stronger than I am!”
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
He is molding and shaping us to do the work that He already has planned out for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
Our Father knows the beginning from the end. He knows what’s in our future and the work He has created us for.
Does this make sense to you? Can you see it in your actions and reactions?
We want to hurry and get out of the process and sometimes, with good intentions, we HELP a friend, an acquaintance or a family member out of a situation that looks bad to us but is actually good in the long run.
Several years ago I was involved in the Bible Study “Fight Back With Joy” by Margaret Feinberg. In this study, she taught us to Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. At the bottom of this post, there is a link for her book and a link for the study guide.
She referenced a children’s book that has been such a blessing to me. It is titled “That’s Good, That’s Bad” by Margery Cuyler. The wonderfully illustrated book starts off at the zoo when the boy is lifted into the sky by his big red balloon. “Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad! ”–because the balloon pops when it hits a tree deep in the jungle. “Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good! ”–because the wide-eyed lad falls into a river and climbs onto a hippo, who takes him to shore. And it goes on with “Oh that’s good. No, that’s bad.” and “Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good” all the way to the happy ending.
Mila’s kids messed with the knobs on the kiln and the kiln cooled off. Whew! Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad. Now, the process has to start all over. Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good. Because now the vessels will be strong and durable and possibly even beautiful. We are His workmanship. He knows the plans He has for us. He causes ALL things to work together for our good.
We started “Fight Back With Joy” around the same time that my hubby was diagnosed with dementia and incurable tumors. Joe and I determined in our hearts to Praise Him as we went through the fire. Was it hard? Yes, it was. Joe’s faith was strong and his love for Jesus never faltered. As I watched my beloved starve and decline there were times that I truly thought the fire was way too hot!!!
There were no shortcuts through this time in our lives.
It was not cheap at all. But, praise God for good insurance. It also cost us emotionally.
Was it fast? Not at all. It was three years of praying and believing for a different outcome and 3 years of watching this big, strong, joy-filled man fade away.
There was no easy button. We did have lots of fun and we went on many road trips, even when it was very hard. The hardest part for me was the personality change that came with dementia.
Two weeks before my hubby passed away I asked a friend who was visiting us in the hospital, “How do I stand strong and believe for healing and yet surrender to God’s will for Joe. Her answer was so simple and so profound and carried me through the weeks and months that were ahead of me. Her answer to me was, “Nathalie, that is called TRUST.”
She didn’t mess with my knobs. Nor did she offer to help me to get out of the fire. And she didn’t tell me that if my faith was strong enough I wouldn’t have to go through the fire. She loved me and encouraged me as I passed through that process. There were a lot of friends who came to the hospital and encouraged us.
And when THAT day came, she was there in my kitchen, quietly helping, silently serving, and praying for me and my family.
Right now you are probably in one of three places. You might currently be in the fire. You could have just come through the fire. Or, it is possible that you are fixing to go into the fire.
Let me remind you one more time of His promise, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2b
But you need to see and believe the whole verse, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
That is the most important promise. “I WILL BE WITH YOU.”
’til next time,