Yesterday we were sharing from the scriptures the truth that God is like the potter to our clay, and we were reminding ourselves that the hands that are moulding us are not the hands of just any potter, they are the hands of our loving heavenly Father. The fact that we have quoted God saying to Jeremiah ‘Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hand.’ Jeremiah 18:6, does not mean that God treats us as inanimate objects, literally like a lump of clay, something He just forces into the shape that He wants, but rather that through relationship He is making us beautiful out of His love for us.
We know this because our God is supremely into relationship. In fact every page of the bible shouts at us that our God is a relational being. This is evident first of all within the Godhead itself. Father, Son and Holy Spirit communicate constantly even though they are totally one. Right at the beginning we read, ‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”’. Genesis 1:26, God talked about this creative moment within the Trinity and then made mankind in His image as a relational being too.
All three members of the Godhead want to be in an ongoing relationship with us, and relationship involves communication and dialogue. This is why we worship and pray, and talk to God whenever we can. Sometimes we have been taught that submitting to God means that we never question Him, We remember how questioning God didn’t go down too well for Job, as God challenges him to answer His questions instead. Job 38:1. Although in the end Job has that wonderful revelation of who God is, Job 42:1-3 it is still a cautionary tale, and we can read it in such a way that it stifles our communication with the Lord in a wrong way.
This is important because within this ‘moulding process’, about which we were talking yesterday, God wants there to be a growing relationship between us and Him. We are His dearly loved children, 1 John 3:1, and, as we know, good parenting involves loving, listening and dialogue, as well as direction and correction. God does not want His ‘moulding’ of us to take place by force, or even fear, but out of our response to His love and care. We need to remember that one way of dialoging and growing in understanding in any relationship is to ask questions, but they need to be the right kind of questions
I was reminded of this recently, listening to Graham Cooke. He pointed out what we all know, that ‘Why’ questions often are not helpful. Asked in the wrong way they can merely put us into a victim frame of mind. The ‘Why me?’ Why is this happening?’ Why doesn’t God ……for me?’ sort of questions. The ones that God didn’t answer for Job. But Graham was quick to point out how willing God is to work with us when we ask the right sort of question with hopeful trust in our hearts.
Questions like, ‘What would you like me to do here Lord?’ What are you looking to ‘grow’ in me? ‘How would you like me to bless this person?’ (any person, annoying or not!!!!) ‘Which fruit of the Spirit are you developing in me through this circumstance Lord?’ ‘Where would you like me to go from here?’ ‘What is the promise for me that will help me with this problem?’ etc. etc. The right questions enable us to grow in our different circumstances. They enable us to grow and mature as people, and also to grow in our friendship with the Lord and delight His heart.
One of the keys, I believe, to asking the right question with the right attitude of heart is thanksgiving. We know that we can ‘enter His gates’, or come into His presence so easily with thanksgiving. Psalm100:4, and we know that, even in our human relationships, showing appreciation can often give us an entrance to a deeper conversation and sharing.
So for example when we are perplexed or confused instead of just praying ‘Help, God get me out of here, why is this happening? please Lord do something…….” we can talk to the Lord something like this. “Father I am feeling quite distressed by this situation but I thank you that you are with me, and I thank you that you said in your word you would give wisdom generously to those who ask, James 1:5, (no need to quote chapter and verse to the Lord!!!), what would you like me to do here?’ or ‘what are you refining in me here Lord?’ or ‘what blessings are you looking to release into this situation here Lord?’ or ‘Who can I talk to who would be a good help to me right now?’
I think God loves our how?, when?, what?, where? and who? questions. He loves our cooperation, even our partnership in the ‘moulding’ process. Like little children who love to explore and learn, let us approach Him with thanksgiving and ask our questions believing that He loves to lead and guide us and that He will be only too ready to speak into our hearts and lives, sharing with us all that He knows we need to know in each situation.