With Grit and Grace

I’m devoting this week to editing the memoir of a missionary couple, who spent more than forty years overseas in a country that is closed to the Gospel and hostile to Christians. Their stories are amazing! But the project itself is enormous. Thus, I’ve taken a bit of a blogging break this week so I could stay focused on getting some editing work done.

But . . .

I’m going to take a five-minute-time-out and write about “grit.” Then, I’ll get back to editing. 🙂

* * * * *

My husband works for a company that makes custom cabinet doors. Not too long ago, he was walking through the manufacturing plant when he noticed several planks of Honduras Mahogany tossed into the scrap pile.

Come to find out, this expensive wood was accidentally planed too thin to be used for cabinets. Ruined and unusable, the exotic lumber lay in the waste bin—awaiting the fateful wood chipper. But Jeff got permission to bring the wood home instead.

He dragged the long pieces of richly colored Mahogany onto the driveway and showed me the varied grain patterns in the sunlight. Jeff explained to me how the wood must first be scratched with course-grit sandpaper. Then these scratches are scratched again and again, each time with a finer course of grit, until the surface is as smooth as glass.

For the next few Saturdays, Jeff remained secluded within his half of the garage. (The mini-van gets the other half.)

Finally, the mystery project was finished. Jeff shielded my eyes with hands that smelled like clean forest. Then he slowly let me see. It was a jewelry box. And it was our anniversary.

My favorite gifts are always the ones that are handmade. Just knowing how much time was poured into it blesses me. But more than anything, I appreciate the stories behind these personalized gifts.

Knowing that this beautiful wood was destined for destruction adds special meaning to me. What was considered worthless in one person’s eyes was wrought full of promise in other person’s eyes.

In the same way, the prophet Jeremiah explains that we are like a clay pot—marred beyond its intended use. Yet, Jehovah takes what is left and forms it into another pot—one that exceeds the original function and beauty.

With grit and grace, God makes all things new, if we just ask Him to.

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay
was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jeremiah 18:4).

Have you experienced the Hand of Jehovah reshaping you and making you new?

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “grit.”

Being Faithful To Finish

Who in the Bible is Archippus?

His name only appears twice in the Bible—once in Colossians and once in Philemon.

It’s an unusual name for sure. I can only guess how to pronounce it. So I’ll call him Archie.

Near the end of Colossians, Paul stops and speaks directly to Archie, encouraging him to finish the work he started.

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord’” (Colossians 4:17).

I confess that, in the past, I used to skim over the opening and closing statements in the New Testament letters. This is probably why I never noticed Archie before. He’s tucked in there, right before the very last verse.

But one day, his name popped out.

I was intrigued. So I looked him up. But I couldn’t find much information on him. No such thing as a Facebook info page back then.

All that is really known about Archie is that he was a notable member of the church in Colossae, and he received a call from God to do a specific work for the Kingdom. Other than that, we don’t know much about him. We don’t even know what he was supposed to do, but whatever it was, we know that he needed to finish it.

Perhaps Archie experienced opposition, and he needed some encouragement to press on.

Perhaps Archie simply lost interest in his work, and his fervor sort of fizzled.

Perhaps Archie got busy with regular life, and he just plain forgot.

Or maybe Archie was still going strong, and Paul just wanted to say: Keep on keeping on, Brother!

Whatever the case, I am glad to know that there are people who may not ever make the headline news, yet they too have received a work from the Lord.

Doing great things for God may go unnoticed by human eyes, but that doesn’t make these things any less important to God. Many people today are being faithful to finish the work they received from the Lord. Too often, though, we only hear about the “famous” believers—the ones traveling the globe with speaking engagements or stadium-filling concerts.

On Mondays, I have been writing about the hidden heroes in my life, those who have ministered to me personally in some heroic way. But there are also hidden heroes in the Bible. They’re not well-known like Moses or David. But they were faithful to finish the specific task God gave to them.

I thank God for including Archippus in the canon of Holy Scripture. He is a great reminder to all of us—whether famous or nameless—that we too have received a work from the Lord. And the verse in Colossians 4:17 encourages, not only Archippus, but also each one of us to finish the work that God has called us to.

Right now, I have a writing task that is requiring my full attention. I am editing the memoir of a missionary couple who have spent forty years overseas in a part of the world that is closed to the Gospel and hostile towards Christians.

Their stories are amazing. But this project is enormous. I have over 700 single-spaced pages awaiting me. So I need to heed Paul’s encouragement to Archippus and focus all of my available energy to finishing this task before me.

Thus, for the next week or more, I am going to take a brief hiatus from blogging, just so I can devote myself wholly to finishing this missionary’s memoir.

Do you have a task that is just waiting to be finished?

Do you have a favorite “hidden hero” in the Bible?

        

Love Delights

During the week of Valentine’s Day, the passage from I Corinthians 13:4-8 gets quoted quite a bit.

I can’t hear this passage without remembering the time I taught my son and daughter these words.

They were only four and five years old at the time, so I made a poster using a different color for each phrase. First, we focused on the red words: “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

Then we moved on to the orange words: “It does not envy. It does not boast.”

We proceeded in this colorful fashion until they had the entire passage memorized. It became our “First Corinthians Game.”

One morning, while I gathered laundry at the top of the stairs, I heard Parker say to his sister, “Let’s play First Corinthians!”

With a bored voice, Brynn responded, “No thanks.”

Undeterred, Parker said, “Okay. I’ll do it!”

At the top of the stairs, I stopped to listen and savor the moment.

In his tender four-year-old voice, Parker began: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking.”

Just then, Brynn snapped at him, “It is not rude! You’re supposed to say, ‘It is not rude!’”

Parker had accidentally skipped that phrase, and Brynn took delight in pointing out her little brother’s error. An argument ensued.

Parker shouted back, “No! It is not self-seeking!”

Brynn yelled again, “No! It is not rude!”

My maternal moment of bliss was over. I had to go downstairs and break it up. Their words to each other were neither loving nor kind.

Later, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. Obviously, they had missed the point.

Sometimes we work so hard at getting it “right” that we miss the point too.

Sometimes we are quick to point out another person’s error.
Sometimes we take delight in another person’s mistake.

Yet . . .

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.

Love comes alongside a friend in despair.
Love rejoices in another person’s success.

Love delights.

Have you ever memorized I Corinthians 13:4-8?

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes (although today I was closer to 7 minutes) to write about “delight.”