Are you a useful vessel for the Lord, however you may be feeling today? A little wobbly like wicker-work or solid as oak, the Lord is always willing to use you if you are willing to give yourself in His service.
Now I don’t mean to be insulting to anyone with the title of this article but some time ago I felt the Lord liken me to a piece of wicker-work furniture that I’d just bought for my hallway! Strange, I know!! But I just thought I would share this story in case I can encourage you also with some aspect of it. Essentially, I felt that the Lord wanted me to know that I didn’t have to be totally strong and perfect in every way prior to Him being able to use me in His service and this is true for all of us. We don’t need to sit around waiting for all our physical and emotional issues to be fully resolved prior to us serving the Lord. He is happy to come to use us in and through our troubles and will certainly shine through the cracks of our lives and in spite of our weaknesses.
However, before I tell my little story, I feel that I ought to try to explain the term “basket case”. An internet search came up with the following:-
“A person who is helpless or incapable of functioning normally, especially due to overwhelming stress, anxiety, nervousness or a person or thing regarded as in a completely hopeless, useless or unable to cope condition.”
Apparently, the history of the phrase was that people in the old style mental health facilities would be given the task of manufacturing baskets to fill their days with some useful activity. Now I have myself had a go at basket weaving in my childhood and even taught my sons, when they were children, how to make baskets. It is quite a soothing hobby and you can end up with a nice and useful basket, should you be tempted to have a go!
However, for the purpose of this story, I am using it with a lighter touch than this dictionary definition, just really intending to say, a person who is a little emotionally, mentally or physically wobbly due to life’s troubles and circumstances. So please don’t feel offended as there is no offence intended, and in fact the story that I will share is about myself in any case.
My New Basket Furniture
However, let me back track a little to explain to you about my new item of furniture and what I had bought it for. It came about that once all my three sons had grown up that it dawned upon me that as the area by my front door was no longer needed for their pile of trainers and football boots that I could now use that space for something entirely different and that of my own choosing. I pondered what I would like to have there and realised that I would like a small chest of drawers in white painted wicker-work (the shabby chic look).
Such an item of furniture could be used to display my flower arrangements, that was my hobby at that time, and also it could store a few bible tracts (handy for if any JW’s came calling).
So off I went to the local furniture shop. I soon spotted a reduced-price item which was exactly what I had in mind. However, the price reduction was due to it having chipped paintwork and also a small lower basket drawer missing. As it was the only item in the store that matched my requirements I decided to purchase it anyway as I thought that maybe I would find another small basket to fit the space at some future date.
Even with its slight imperfections this new item of basket furniture certainly improved the look of my entrance to my home and it was the perfect position for some of my lovely flower creations. I had chosen it for the dual purpose of both increasing the beauty and attractiveness of my home and to also hold the Word of God in its top drawer, in readiness to share with others.
My Flower Arrangements
Now the thing I noticed about the flower arrangements that I made is that the cut flowers that I used to create the artistic beauty were in fact dying from the moment of cutting from the plant. They had a very short lived beauty. This brought to my mind the nature of our flesh lives – that is the length of our days and the sad fact that our physical appearance often deteriorates over time. We are reminded of this in Proverbs 31:30 where is says:
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
And in Job 14:1-2 it says:
“Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away…”
Then again in James 1:9-11 we have:
“Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.”
So I reasoned that as we are just passing through this world that we ought not to spend all of our time consumed with the external appearances surrounding our lives but we ought rather to concentrate more of our efforts on the condition of our heart and spiritual state in the eyes of God. In the analogy of my furniture being likened to our lives, I suppose it would be a question of what is actually inside the drawers, rather than what is decorating the exterior?
The Lord’s perspective
And that was how I felt the Lord spoke to me. It was a case of Him letting me know that as I’d bought the furniture for the two purposes of displaying beauty and holding the Word of God, that He would use me likewise to display His beauty as I held within my heart the Word of God with my love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
As basket-work is of a slightly wobbly nature in and of itself, and as the furniture was chipped and bashed and as it had a drawer missing, it was overall quite imperfect. I felt the Lord was letting me know that I did not need to wait until my nature changed into solid oak or wait until all the baskets were somehow in place or even wait to repair the paintwork; He was letting me know that He could and would use me in the condition I was in presently.
I only share this with you just in case you are struggling with some similar aspects of your life; – if you are maybe thinking along the lines that I was thinking – you know, thinking, if only I was less emotional or less fragile, if only I was of better health and didn’t suffer from … then God could use me in such and such a way.
I am hoping to say, that God can use anyone, anytime, and in any condition. He can use you in physical, mental or emotional weakness just as He can use you in stronger times. Remember when Paul was buffeted by something he refers to as “a thorn in the flesh” and the Lord’s response when he asked the Lord to be freed from it was:
“ “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10
This last verse reminds me of the old hymn;
Just a Closer Walk with Thee.
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
So let us trust in the Lord’s strength when we feel weak and take care to treasure His word in our hearts (Ps 119:11) as it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and God looks at our hearts not our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).
I once went through the book of Psalms with a coloured pencil and coloured every mention of the word “heart”. May I recommend this to you as it will emphasise how important it is to guard the heart. It’s what’s inside your “basket” (that is your life) not the external appearance that is the most important part of your life.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
So let me finally encourage you to present yourself to the Lord, however weak or strong you may be feeling and just ask that He shines His light through the cracks of your life and I am sure He will direct you in the way to shine for Him. In fact I started this blog to be one of my little ways to obey the Lord to put my light on a stand rather than hiding it under a basket.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
May God bless all the “basket-case” folks and also all the “solid oak” folks out there, as we each allow the Lord to use us in His own special ways to bless others, as we are blessed.
God bless you all,
See also like “Flattened & Crushed” about my Poppies damaged by the storm, found here.
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