I had one of those transformative moments in my life this past week.
Not as transformative as some of you have had. It was one of those moments where I could see God’s protective hands around me, yet the event also changed some of my husband and my plans.
Let me tell you the story. My husband and I are planners. We save our money; and because my husband has financial goals that he has carried out, we have never been in want. We never have lived luxuriously, yet our needs and most of our wants have been provided. One way we do that is by trying not to be in debt. We buy with cash used, older cars with lower miles and run them into the ground. We pay our credit cards off every month. When we had a mortgage, we paid extra every month so that we could pay down our mortgage quickly. (We now live in a church house that is not our own.)
When we last needed a newer minivan, we prayed specifically for the van we wanted. We wanted a Honda Odyssey EX 2006 or newer as they all came with 8 seats. Since we had 7 people in our family, we thought it would be nice to have an extra seat for someone else to ride with us. If my husband wasn’t going on an activity due to work, we could take a couple of friends.
We told a friend what we were looking for, and that friend just “happened” to overhear a woman saying she had to get rid of her van as she couldn’t drive it, her husband had abandoned her by going back to China, and the funds would give her some money to live on. He told us, and we bought the van. It was a 2006 Honda Odyssey EX. We were able to get what she would have gotten if she traded it in to CarMax, and we helped her set up a bank account that she could use for her needs. It was such a neat answer to prayer, and a wonderful way of how God cares about those little details in our life.
We had hopes that the van would make it to at least 200,000 miles. It was running great! And then I got rear-ended this week on the highway. I was stopped, but when I got hit, I ended up bumping the person in front of me. We are still in the process of getting an adjuster to look at it, taking it to a body shop for a quote, and getting medical treatment for a sore neck.
In all the hassle of dealing with my van, I would at times get very emotional. The car is a 2006 van with 126,000 miles. Probably, in the adjuster’s eyes, it will not be worth that much; but in our eyes it was worth a lot. It meant not having to put money into a new vehicle for several years.
But as I thought more, I had to acknowledge that God knows best. He is in charge. I could look at all the positives:
- My kids were not with me in the car.
- The police came quickly and as I was in the slow lane, we were easily moved off of the local highway.
- The other cars involved were very kind and patient.
- All parties agreed to the sequence of events, and the accident was shown to be no fault of my driving.
- My car was still drivable so I could get it home — and my groceries — so my husband could help me deal with the details.
- I was not more seriously hurt. Two ladders came off of the top of the van that hit me. One of them ended up in front of my car, and the other one was behind my car. I was so thankful they did not go through my rear window.
- I have good friends that would help if I needed it.
- My children are old enough to help make dinner and wash dishes when I didn’t feel like it.
- My husband was supportive of my needs.
There were so many good things I could dwell on. But I was still thinking thoughts like,
- “We are going to have to sink money into a newer car, and we have already had so many expenses in the past couple of months!”
- “When will I go grocery shopping now? I am so busy this week!”
- “Will I feel good enough to go to one of my daughter’s last basketball games?”
In the past, I have thought I was a flexible person. With five kids, you just have to be flexible. You can have your day planned out, but with five kids, it is very likely that it never will go exactly like you planned. So you just “roll” with it. I feel like I do that a lot. However, do I always just “roll” with God’s plan? Obviously, He allowed this to happen. It’s no surprise to Him that we may need to get a new vehicle if the adjuster decides it’s too much to fix our van.
So as I thought about rolling with God’s plan, about being flexible, I thought, “What is a good word for being flexible?” The word “malleable” came to mind.
Here are some definitions of malleable:
- capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers
- capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces or influences
- capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out
When I look at these definitions, I do want God to shape me. However, I don’t want Him to have to shape me like how metal would be shaped. A metal worker has to use a hammer to beat the metal into the correct shape, or he has to apply heavy pressure with rollers to the metal to flatten it. God could shape me in those ways if I resist His shaping in other ways. I would much prefer to be molded like clay that is soft.
I want to be soft, pliable clay that God lovingly shapes with soft, gentle turns while giving me His living water as he turns and molds me.
God often describes Himself as the potter and His people as the clay. We see several instances in His Word:
- Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Isaiah 45:9
- Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? Isaiah 29:16
- The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6
- But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Isiah 64:8
- Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:20-21
As I contemplated God being my potter, I wondered, “Am I clay that He can work with to shape as He sees fit? Or will He see the clay as worthless, unable to be shaped or molded?”
I want to be clay that is malleable, flexible, and pliable in His hands. If He says, “It’s time to get a new car,” then who am I to say otherwise? He knows what is best! He might let the body shop say it isn’t as expensive as we think it might be, and then we can keep it. It doesn’t matter what He says; our response is what matters.
I did not choose a word of the year this year. If I had to pick a word, I would pick MALLEABLE to be my word of the year for 2019. I want to be pliable, moldable, capable of being shaped by my Potter this year.
Are you malleable?
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