Helping other people, being "Jesus in their life," isn't always easy, and the responses we get won't always be positive.
Several years ago, my children went to a party that was memorable: a clown there was doing balloon “art.” Now, I’m sure that no one can go to college and take classes in balloon art, but this guy had everybody—even the adults—mesmerized with the different things he could make using just balloons! As I watched, I realized that the magic wasn’t just found in what the clown made, but also in the level of his skill. The clown really, really loved bringing joy to the group.
After the cake came out, the song was sung, the candles blown out, and as the hungry hordes were chowing down, I cornered the clown and asked him some questions.
First, I was wrong. He did, in fact, attend “clown college” in Sarasota, Florida. He has an actual degree in “clown arts” from Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey (the famous circus people).
Second, I learned that he can use just a balloon to make almost anything. The only thing that slows him down is “difficult balloons that are stiff, not stretchy, and resistant to letting you work with them.”
I asked what he does when this happens. He replied, “Well, sometimes I have to stretch them, twist them, and wad them up to get them to be more manageable. It may take a while, but I always get the balloon to cooperate. After all, these balloons all have different sizes, shapes, and colors, but this is what they were made for.”
I thanked him for his time. OK, I also put some money in his clown hat. After all, this clown had shared deep, life-changing, godly wisdom with me, without even knowing it.
Let me explain.
No matter what size, shape, or color we are, we’re each made for a specific purpose: to glorify God through our lives. There’s nothing particularly special about us, but the One who uses us to reach others is very special. We may initially resist God. When that happens, He may have to stretch us, twist us, and sometimes wad us up to get us to cooperate (see Acts 26:14).
God loves, loves to see people get saved. He is willing to use us. He fills us with His Holy Spirit, shapes, twists, and molds us to fit the unique and varied needs and requests of others. He’ll do whatever it takes to reach them, and we are the tools He uses.
Like Clay Pots
The prophet Jeremiah—angry, anxious, depressed, and fearful about the people’s negative, sometimes violent, response to his ministry—pleaded with God, and here’s how God responded:
“‘Go to the pottery shop, and when you get there, I will tell you what to say to the people.’ I went there and saw the potter making clay pots on his pottery wheel. And whenever the clay would not take the shape he wanted, he would change his mind and form it into some other shape. Then the Lord told me to say: ‘People of Israel, I, the Lord, have power over you, just as a potter has power over clay. . . . If I promise to make a nation strong, but its people start disobeying me and doing evil, then I will change my mind and not help them at all. So listen to me, people of Judah and Jerusalem! I have decided to strike you with disaster, and I won’t change my mind unless you stop sinning and start living right’” (Jer. 18:2-6; 9-11, CEV).[*]
God is the potter and we are the clay. Helping other people, being “Jesus in their life,” isn’t always easy, and the responses we get won’t always be positive. But what’s the alternative? We turn our backs on God and the world, and let everybody miss out on a relationship with Jesus? For eternity? Thank goodness that’s not what Jesus did for us.
The apostle Paul had it right when defending his ministry to the Christians in Corinth: “I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:19-23, CEV).
Full of Hot Air
When we recognize that without Jesus’ sacrifice we would be eternally lost, we’ll want to be Jesus’ representatives to bring others to Him and glorify Him. We’ll want to let God use us; to form and fashion us into whatever shape He wants, to save as many of His children as He can.
I want to be God’s balloon and be filled with His hot air, rather than my own. I hope you’ll decide to do the same.
Know Jesus. Love Jesus. Live Jesus.
Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplain Plainville, Georgia.
[*] Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.