Olivia Dear Thames
Carved By a God, the God.
If you all didn’t know, my family is moving to Oxford. I, you know, kind of already live there, but I am thrilled to have my parents and my fellow offspring join me in my favorite place.
The move has spawned a summer of packing and cleaning out. Okay, a summer of Mom packing and cleaning out while we try to avoid it.
While packing dishes a couple days ago, Mom came across this gem:
You’re sitting there thinking about how precious this piece of kindergarten art is, but actually . . . I made that senior year of high school in Ceramics I. I thought the sprinkles were so cute, and I still think it’s rather artsy of me to have pushed the ice cream bowl to the side a little. Angles = automatic creativity.
And then we came across this.
Another one of my Ceramics I creations. It was supposed to look like this:
It didn’t help that for the same project, my sister, the Homecoming Queen, Prom Queen, and Miss Madison Central, created this:
Photography doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a beehive teapot. It’s fully functioning; water can flow through it and all. Oh yeah, and there are CERAMIC BEES ATTACHED. Nothing says truly artistic like CERAMIC BEES attached to a functioning teapot.
If any of you are still reading and still questioning a higher being, I’m here to say that I somehow came out with an A in that class.
Anyway, last week, I was sitting at my friend’s house, preparing for a Mentone, Alabama road trip to visit some camp counselor besties.
And by “preparing,” I mean I was surfing the web. In Olivia terms, this means perusing through Joss and Main (a home decor site to say the least), then scrolling past visions of Pinterest sugar plums. And that’s just the appetizer. Then I dive into my main course, the sautéed target.com with a side of tjmaxx.com green beans and a little Anthropologie wheat roll. And for dessert, I visited the creamy and satisfying amazon.com because the options for fulfillment are endless.
I was materialistically full . . .Until God looked down at me like this:
His words were so vivid in my mind.
“Olivia, my child, there is more than this. You cannot place your security in your possessions. I have taught you so much, but you are still consuming the materialistic things of this world as if I haven’t saved your life.” “My Lord, I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I also praise You because I was made with an eye for beautiful things. I confess to desiring the pillows from HomeGoods today more than I have desired You lately, but it’s okay because tomorrow is a new day! Online skimming is no sin; I’m not even really buying anything! Thank You for outlets that allow my creative juices to flow. And thank You for T.J. Maxx. Amen.”
As you can see, things needed to change.
Soon after, my debit card number got stolen (FYI, potential felons: if you’re going to steal a card, you cannot get very far with mine). So, I had a nonfunctioning debit card. This meant that grazing through home decor sites was no longer intriguing, because everything was just even more out of reach. It was so inconvenient, but I found myself with more time. I wasn’t in HomeGoods when I had an extra half hour. I wasn’t getting cross-eyed at Anthropologie’s latest set of mugs. I wasn’t wasting and I wasn’t consuming. And it was liberating.
Then, I heard that voice again.
“When you delight in Me rather than in the things of this world, I will give You the desires of Your heart. You seek approval in so many areas and You frequently find Yourself exhausted because of this. I just require You to seek Me.”
I came to the realization that with eyes that feasted on the things of the world, I felt more and more like my asymmetrical ceramics project. I had paint missing here and there, I felt void of purpose . . . I definitely didn't feel like God's creation, God's handiwork.
Because I was allowing the marketplace to mold me. I was being crafted to seek approval from everyone and anyone around me. The hands that were shaping me were not the hands that were nailed to the cross or the hands that created you and me.
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
It is when we allow God to take over the wheel that we become sculpted in His image. He knows when we need a dab of encouragement here or some conviction in that area. He is the Michelangelo of creation.
Give Him authority in Your life. Lay down your idols. Trust the Man behind the design. Let His hands and His work define you.
The things of this world will not always satisfy you. Your iPhone will soon shatter, your trinkets will go out of style, and that bag you had to have last month will fade out of your mind. The material world is like a McDonald’s burger: we're quick to order, but we probably don't feel our best after the fact.
But God doesn’t go out of style. He doesn’t break into a million pieces and He doesn’t give you blisters. Moths eat and rust destroys, but our Savior stays the same.
I urge You to rid yourself of your consuming fetishes. Let Him mold you. Let Him define you. Trust in the Potter’s hands, and let no one else and nothing else reach out and mess up the flow that He has going. I imagine God sipping on a half-and-half sweet tea, blaring Hillsong, wearing an apron that says “Proud Dad,” while sitting on his wooden stool behind the wheel, forming you and me into ceramic Kingdom builders.
Let’s give Him the space to do His work. Materialism gives us rough edges and a rocky foundation, but with God, we can be more gorgeous than McCarty. Allow Him to trim some clay when it’s necessary for Your purpose. Allow Him to carve the deepest places in your soul. Allow Him to be the Potter in the first place.
Even our best attempts to design our own creation stories will fail. But when we place the carving tools in the Creator’s hands instead of our own hands, we are bound to be formed into a teapot that even exceeds Miss Madison Central 2012’s beehive.
Seek His artistry more than you seek the world today, and you will find that His purpose is always better.