Ugly Works

Ugly Works

Guest post by Crystal Dillard

Do you have anything around the house that works but maybe isn’t the most pretty thing upon which to gaze? Perhaps it’s that old lawnmower, a favorite vehicle, or household appliance. Have you ever thought about your testimony that way?

I was at my grandmother’s funeral this week when I heard something from a friend that inspired this writing. In the heat of the sun, waiting outside the church for the procession to walk across the road to the old family cemetery, I stood with two friends, Nina and Brandy, talking. Nina hugged me and handed me one of those battery-operated fans you can wear around your neck to keep a steady flow of wind on your face. Only hers was a drab gray, missing the lanyard part, and had survived a fall…or ten. Still all I could think was “Ahhh”. What a relief on such a warm afternoon after going from the air-conditioned church into the direct sunlight near the blacktop.

Nina continued to say her goodbyes and handed my friend, Brandy, a beat-up foldout fan that had seen its better days too. And that’s when she said it: “It’s ugly, but it works!” All I could say was, “That’ll preach!” and I couldn’t wait to get to some paper or a computer to expand on that thought. It reminded me of all the times I’ve seen a heartfelt sermon preached by a pastor holding a worn-out bible barely held together with tape or some sort of recovering. Charles Spurgeon once said, “A bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

How many times have you heard stories of people used by God to demonstrate His power by allowing beauty to rise up out of ashes? Does your life point people to Jesus? Then own the ups, downs, the pain, difficulties, as well as the beauties and wins. Maybe your journey is like that…it’s ugly, but it works. In fact, many people are brought to the Lord because they see the supernatural power of our Father work in the life of someone who simply could not do what God is doing in their life. You preach a life-changing sermon each time you tell of what He has done for you, and then aim to walk out His commands in every way, imperfect, but
striving nonetheless to please Him.

Many biblical accounts tell the stories of people who goofed, yet God still used them! In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:27, the bible says “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” God is so powerful and loving that He CHOOSES to use flawed humans to carry out His plans, (Heck, there’s no other kind of human!) and once we come to grips with the fact that our inadequacies do not exclude us from His use, He can move mountains with our mustard-seed-sized faith! We think, “Lord, I don’t want to fail you. I cannot fail at one more thing”, and He assures us “I WILL NOT FAIL YOU.”

I know all too well that feeling – lies from the devil by the way – that it’s all up to me, if anything is going to get done, I must do it, or I don’t need help because I’m independent. You must decide today whether you believe the devil or God, because the Holy Bible, God breathed scriptures penned by ordinary men God anointed to write, clearly reminds us that our Lord is the One doing the heavy-lifting. We aren’t even capable of facing all the fiery darts coming at us at once, but He is able, and He is willing to carry your burdens for you, to grant you confidence, and replace your weakness with His strength. Pay careful attention though: He won’t pry it from your hands. You must cast your care into His bucket and empty yours.

I love children’s songs, and this reminds me of one in particular. It might do our hearts and heads some good to go back in our minds and fetch the words to sing even now as adults. Remember “Jesus Loves Me”, particularly the line that’s sung with the lines “They are weak/ But He is strong”? Think about Moses, David, Paul, Rahab, Mary, and so many more who gave their lives to passing on the hope of Jesus because through Him, lives would be changed. It matters not what your past life before Jesus looks like. It won’t be all smooth sailing after Christ either, but everything you say and everything you do determines eternity for those watching and listening, and it also determines whether you will have chaos or the peace that passes all understanding Philippians 4:7 declares over us.

Let us take practical steps to guard our hearts and renew our minds and make our everyday walk with the Lord the beautiful thing it was designed to be, as in Eden. In the eyes of a Christian, even the painful, bloody picture of Christ dying on the cross transforms into an awe inspiring demonstration of love that brings hope and forgiveness in this life and eternity with Him thereafter. His selfless sacrifice to save my soul and yours is truly a thing of ultimate marvel. When we choose to surrender our lives and our stories, no matter how ugly, to make them His, He promises to do the same with our story. People will shake their heads and cover their mouths and wonder how you did it. Then they will have seen God in action…in your life…in their neighborhood…delivering folks with their same cultural features…facing the same problems as them…or worse. Don’t you see? Your life, when surrendered to Almighty God, offers hope to a lost, confused, and dying world. Another hymn we sang just this week at church proclaims “He is able/ He is able/ He is willing/ Doubt no more”. Let’s stop just acting like we believe in Him and start acting like we believe Him.

Just like my friend with the ugly, tired fans, we can in turn be that breath of fresh air in the lives of our loved ones and strangers alike, bringing an answer to prayers they may have never even known to pray. You aren’t broken; you are a masterpiece in the hands of a gifted Potter. When a light is placed inside a piece of pottery, it is only able to shine out through in the cracked places. Let Him smooth the rough edges and set you on high to attract others to His workshop too.

My prayer today: Use me Lord. Show me the areas in my life that have not yet been fully surrendered to You, and help me let go of them. I know You have even better things intended for me and through me if I’ll give them to You and trust You with them. Let others see You at work in me, and allow me to be a beacon pointing them in Your direction, for only You can save. Show me the decisions you’d have me make today that will honor You, God. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Crystal Dillard is a Christian speaker, writer, and beach-lover from West Monroe, Louisiana. She was a public school teacher for 16 years, and enjoyed working with children of all ages, particularly teens and preteens. She currently serves as a ladies ministry leader, bible study teacher, Heartfelt Mom, and children’s Sunday School teacher at her church. Isaiah 61 inspires her to encourage the weary as we navigate through life and to point people to Jesus. She and husband Jim have been married for 15 years and love to experience God’s artwork when traveling. Together they own and manage two small businesses.

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