Sunday, January 31, 2010

Diamonds and Clay

In March of 2005, Ashley Smith was living an otherwise uneventful life. She had no idea as she walked up to her apartment that she was going to encounter the man that would change her forever. Brian Nichols was a man on the run and with good reason. He had just viciously killed a superior court judge, wounded a deputy and killed a court clerk. He appeared to most watching, including myself, a man with no conscience; no sense of value for human life, yet Ashley remained calm in his presence and convinced this man to turn himself in.

Today if you Google Ashley's name you will find she is now Ashley Smith Robinson and has her own web site You'll learn from reading her Bio that at the time she encountered Brian she was on Chapter 32 of "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren; "Using What God Gave You." She was a widow of a man that died a violent death, and a mother that had temporarily gave up her parental rights. It was her story that convinced Brian Nichols to do the right thing and not take her life, his own and anyone else's. Armed with nothing more than her faith in God and her own past, Ashley was able to conquer a giant.

Today Ashley speaks all over the country, giving people hope and teaching them about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What I find interesting about Ashley is that when Brian found her she wasn't at her "A" game so to speak. She had made some bad choices; she wasn't perfect and wasn't pretending to be. At the moment he found her she was trying to better herself…find her purpose. Out of her own tragic chain of events little did she know God was about to use her to guide someone else out of another chain of tragic events. It's really remarkable when you think about it…the way God works.

You never know what's around the next corner in life. When you think that you've done everything wrong and your life is the exact opposite it should be, that's when you may find that you are of the most use. Diamonds don't come out of the ground sparkling, reflecting the light. No, diamonds start off as coal; dirty, dark and seemingly worthless. It is only the pressure put on them by the weight of the earth around it that they are molded into precious jewels worth a million times more their weight.

I used to wonder when the meteor meant to change my life was going to finally enter my atmosphere, but after seeing stories like Ashley's and countless others, I realize that it's not just one event that is going to make me what I'm meant to be. It is everything that happens in our lives from the moment we're born. Every turn, every step, every decision is preparing you; the question is, are you going to crumble under the pressure of being human and flawed, or are you going to allow nature to run its course? Diamonds don't become diamonds in a day; everything worthwhile and precious takes time.

Now when things don't go my way; when I'm cut deep by someone that was supposed to care about me; when I fall short of even my own expectations; I just picture myself on a potter's wheel. I see that potter pilling clay on top of clay, spinning the wheel fast, and then slow, concentrating on every detail, moving his hands delicately to smooth those lumps out. I picture him giving me a basic shape and then I picture him letting me sit for awhile and then coming back with tools small enough to make intricate little designs. I picture having to add water now and then so that I don't dry before I'm ready. Sometimes I picture him scrapping the whole project and starting from scratch, but never giving up until his masterpiece is complete. He studies his work and see's where it can be better. He adds to it, he takes away from it. He does whatever is necessary to make the clay stand on its own, until it's no longer clay anymore, but fine porcelain. That is what I see for me. I'm ok with not understanding everything, because I understand the one that created me. He is a perfectionist and He wants the best for me, like He wants the best for you. You see a potter traditionally does not just make things that are pretty; he makes things that are of good use. He takes such care and time in creating them because their use is specific and it's important they are made with care otherwise they're no good.

Ashley was made with care and God placed her here for a purpose. Today her story has opened the gateway of purpose for countless others. Out of the life of one, God was able to touch many. You and I are being molded right now, not just for our good, but also for the good of others. Whatever you may be going through, just trust you'll be alright. The potter has you in his hands and he's smoothing out your edges all the time.