Remember when you were little, walking through a garden with stepping stones? Can you remember when they seemed to be spaced so far apart that you had to literally leap from one to another? Can you remember playing lava? If you missed the stone and hit the grass you got burned up? It’s funny how we’ve grown up and the stones are the same distance apart as they were when we were kids, but we are still trying to leap.
Life is made up of key segments that can be likened to the stepping stones of a garden. Each one, although some small and some large, are equally as important to the end goal. If the grassy area around the stones were lava you wouldn’t want to mis-step. Some of us, especially in ministry know where we are and know where we want to go, or hopefully where God wants us to go, but we don’t know how to get there. The answer is stupidly simple. One step at a time. We all want to skip a stone. We want to go from a seat in the congregation to associate pastor over night. We all hate the thought of years spent serving as an usher, or a greeter, or a coffee server in the lobby. But, God has a plan for us all… and most of it involves character building.
I remember years ago I was in a band. We thought we were ready for the big leagues. I remember whole-heartedly thinking our music was good enough and our abilities were ready. I look back, I listen back… it wasn’t that the songs weren’t catchy, they just weren’t well arranged. Then the next band came along we spent a year playing and nurturing my old music. We thought we were ready… we still weren’t. Our stage presence was awful. We looked like statues. No one moving or looking involved. Then we figured it all out (seemly) Our songs we catchy and well arranged, our stage presence was great… we looked and sounded like a band. But, God still wasn’t done. He later revealed to me that His true purpose for me personally was to lead worship in a church. He used years of my life molding and shaping my abilities and honing my skills. He built my character and taught me how to deal with circumstances.
Now, He has moved me from a secular/christian venue, into a worship band, occasionally leading but mostly serving. Again, building character and teaching me submission.
What if He took me from a being a young writer with good ideas but bad execution and thrusted me directly into a position of leadership over a team of 15 people looking for direction? What if I didn’t have years of experiencing leading a band of 5, writing music, arranging, producing and learning to deal with diverse personalities? What if He allowed me to skip stones in the garden of my life? Would that have been beneficial? No, not at all. I wouldn’t have represented myself well and I wouldn’t have represented Him well. I would have missed out on all the life lessons.
I am still being shaped. I am still not yet the worship leader God has called me to be. I am still not in the position I desire to be. But I have learned; the longer the preparation, the greater the launch. The more time you spend on easel the the greater the masterpiece. Anything worth obtaining is worth the wait.
Don’t try and skip steps… embrace each one as an important part of your life. Some may seem boring and even difficult, but you are there for a reason. God is referred to as the Potter and we are the clay. When a potter makes a vase there are a few steps. First, it is shaped. Shaping is often a long process in which the clay is smashed over and over again. If the shape is not just right, most of the time it needs to be clumped back together and reshaped from the beginning. Once the potter is happy with the shape it is put on the shelf to dry. If in the drying process the clay cracks it must be reshaped from the beginning. If it doesn’t crack it is thrown into a furnace to be hardened and completed. Then, finally it is ready to be made beautiful.
Maybe you are in the shaping process. God is working on you to prepare you for the future. He knows there’s something large out there for you and needs to be sure you are seasoned and ready. Or, maybe He is happy with your character and overall shape, but he has you on the shelf to dry. Often, the shelf is the worst place to be. It’s boring, it seems sometimes like God has forgotten you. You could be here a long long time, but as long as you don’t crack, you’ll eventually move on. Unfortunately, what comes next isn’t much easier. Possibly, you find yourself in the kiln. You are being tested. Your character looked good. You didn’t crack under the pressure of boredom or frustration. Now you are in the fire. God is making sure your character stays true. He’s making sure that when the heat is on, you stay true. If you pass the test of the fire, you are ready to be painted and decorated. This is where God can finally use you and anoint you to do His will and plan.
If you skip any of these steps you won’t be the beautiful vessel God intended for you to be. Never be eager to skip stones, they all have a purpose no matter how big or small they are.