This weekend I attended a ladies tea at the new little church where I have been visiting. We were all instructed to bring our own teacup. That was of course no problem for me, as I love every aspect of tea parties, the food, the fellowship and… I love china! There was no problem in choosing one of my favorite ones to bring, either! There it was, sitting in my grandmother’s golden colored curio that my grandfather bought for her on their “golden” wedding anniversary! Now, this is not an old antique cup and saucer past down nor is it one that is chipped and stained. No, a dear friend gave this special teacup to me a few years ago, and it does carry special meaning; however, I’ll cherish that thought and keep it to myself. Instead, I began to think about this cup, it’s color, the shape, and it’s design. I just knew the question would be raised to the women there at the gathering, why did they choose the cup they brought! I wanted to be prepared with an answer and so I began to ponder. Quickly I came up with things like the depth of the cup is not shallow! I love to engage in deep conversation and like this cup; my way of thinking is rather deep. It is edged with gold, which reminds me that as a daughter of the King, I have royal blood flowing through my veins. The colors of the cup symbolize white for honesty and purity and the Caribbean blue green for water…living water! Deep translucent water that is common to the isles of the West Indies! I was surely prepared for any question pertaining to my cup and of course, laced with a spiritual emphasis!
(Click the arrow to begin music here if you wish)
As I showered to get ready for the event, I was reminded about those Caribbean waters. Many years ago I had the opportunity to snorkel in those waters around the Bahama Islands. It was an adventure that I couldn’t pass up even though I’m not a very good swimmer. I remember three instructions were given to us by the guide: 1) remove any shinny jewelry 2) beware of a long slender fish that looks like a submarine, it’s a Barracuda and they are attracted to shiny things, Barracuda’s are dangerous 3) don’t wander too far from the boat. My body slid into the warm waters and face down, I experienced the most beautiful scenery! God’s underwater creation was amazing! Tropical fish swam just below me and the corral reef was exquisite. I was so overtaken by the underwater view that I lost sight of how far I had drifted from the boat and had given the pull of the tide no thought!
All was so peaceful and I was basking in the beauty until… you guessed it! A gray submarine quickly swam just past me! BARRACUDA!!! And barracudas = danger! My heart rate began to race as I thought about many things and remembered that I don’t swim very well, there is a dangerous fish in my vicinity, and as I lifted my head out of the water to see where I was, I realized that the boat was VERY far from me. I began to panic and attempted to swim as fast as I could back toward the boat. These words became my theme as I repeated them over and over in my mind: “I’ve got to get to the refuge! I’ve got to get to the refuge!” And as I sit and write these very words and recall that event, I can feel my anxious heart even now, pick up speed! Still during my distress, I took notice that I didn’t say, “I’ve got to get back to the boat!” It was the refuge, instead!
God took that opportunity to teach me a very important lesson. I learned it well while racing back to the boat and to where there were other people. He is my refuge. The refuge is a place of safety. It is shelter from pursuit that seems dangerous or laden with trouble. In life, there are many beautiful and appealing things that try to lure me into territory that is not safe for me. Even though trouble often pursues me, I will seek and find safety in the refuge of the Almighty.
I have not, nor would I have not thought about that experience for a long time had it not been for that teacup!
But here is the clincher…in my boasting to find a cup with symbolically spiritual significance, I found myself drifting into dangerous territory. I drifted into the Sea of Man’s Approval. To “look and sound spiritual” so that I could measure up or to be found worthy with this new group of women. I’m confessing my fault here with an open and honest heart. It was a stench in the nostrils of God. Just like those beautiful underwater scenes that led me further away from the boat, those unaware thoughts of exhibiting my “spiritual matureness” led me further from portraying who I really am in Christ. A sinner who is forgiven by grace! Isn’t that all that really matters? Not my spiritual pedigree. If I am to boast, let me boast of The Lord and His saving grace.
Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom,
and let not the mighty man boast of his might,
let not a rich man boast of his riches;
but let him who boasts boast of this,
that he understands and knows Me,
that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;
for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.
I met with the Lord this past weekend. He revealed a heart that has been wounded, hardened, and sick. If we are honest with one another, I’m sure you can say that you’ve been there too. Let’s race together to the refuge! It’s a place where the Lord offers loving kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. His billows of grace and healing break and crash on those whom He calls His own. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my strength.
(Psalm 46 makes for good reading here!)
Dear Lord, I am a vessel (cup) for you and your purpose. Lately, my vibrant color has been tainted and stained by shadows of pride and self preservation. I have been chipped, broken, and carry bitter drink. Today, I re-wash myself in your forgiveness and re-dedicate myself to be filled to overflowing with the living water that you give. I pray that as I move through my days and into the weeks, that you will allow me to offer the sweet drink of your love to others. Only you can satisfy the parched soul and quench the thirst of the thirsty. Use me as you see fit to pour myself out and serve others in your name. Let the color of my cup reflect the radiant prism of your glory! In the name of Jesus, my Savior and my refuge I pray these things, Amen.
Here’s a little God humor…
At the women’s tea, the question “Why did you choose this particular cup to bring?” was never asked or discussed!
Blessed and refilled,
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