It truly is amazing how constantly God's fingerprints, in each life, are palpably observable. Those fingerprints that confirm day in, day out, His incomparable love for us. Those fingerprints that anchor us to the reality of His love. Those fingerprints painting meaning into every breath of life. Take this morning's sink episode for example.
This past Sunday my mother brought the flowers for decorating the church sanctuary for the morning service. She'd been planning for days just what she would do, and had come earlier in the week with a specific objective in mind. She was looking for a vase that would highlight her arrangement. Not simply the flowers, but the vase’s contents would be an important part of the overall effect she yearned to create. In the end, along with a "just in case" vase, she selected what she was really after. A clear water pitcher. It would prove the perfect showcase for her careful design.
My mother, for several years, been treasuring a special water vase additive, and this particular Sunday morning afforded the perfect opportunity to use it. Once the vessel was filled with liquid, the treasured additive would be poured in. It would expand in the vase, all around the flower stems, creating a glorious crystalline pattern, making something quite elegant in its simplicity transform into something breathtakingly unique in its beauty.
Imagine, upon pouring in the treasured additive, her disappointment when nothing happened. No crystals grew. No dazzling fractured glass appearance. Nothing. Just clear water remained, the additive having dissipated into nothingness.
It was a sweet arrangement. But every time my mother looked at it, she could see what it wasn't, rather than what it was.
The week has drawn to a close, the flowers having now crossed the line of no return, and I took it upon myself this morning to remove them from the vase, and carefully discard them. Plenty of water remained, nearly as much, I imagine, as when she first filled it. Without a second thought, I dumped the contents into the sink preparing to quickly snatch those few leaves that had fallen into the water ... before they were sucked down the drain.
Imagine my shock. The water went down the drain in an instant. But the sink? It was full of cup after cup after cup of clear gelatinous fragments. The crystalline elements had been there ... all along. They simply were not visible, even to searching eyes.
The entire time I was cleaning up the unexpected "leftover treasures" from the vase, the wheels in my mind kept spinning. The fingerprints becoming clearer and clearer. The arena in which they fell? Fruit ... spiritual fruit, of which life is replete.
Like so much of life, the spiritual is a two-sided coin. Light and darkness. Sin and holiness. The seeds of each falling in our Edenic clay.
Being made in the image of God, the capacity for us to live a reflection of His holiness, refracting His light in a fallen world, is very real. We are His masterpiece, carefully formed. That image of Himself, meticulously molded into our clay by His own hand, making us His vessel. A vessel to bear His reflection remains, forever His divine call, on every life. Never in our own strength, but always through His indwelling.
Here lies the beauty of the crystalline effect my mother was after. The beauty of light, reflecting off of innumerable facets, projecting, magnifying, the glory of the light itself.
But the coin has another side. Formed from Edenic clay, man is susceptible to other seed. Another spiritual seed, hidden from human eye, disguised as clay itself, multiples and multiplies and multiples, until the light within the clay is no longer distinguishable.
So why did the vase of my mother's labors, filled nearly to the brim with gelatinous fragments, not produce the light reflective qualities she yearned for?
Maybe the answer is not as elusive as we wish it were. Maybe it goes back to a fundamental truth that God has alerted us to over and over and over. We discover it most clearly in the Old Testament concept of dwelling with the Canaanites ... of becoming one with the very elements driving piercing nails into battered flesh until a scarlet river flowed down a splintered tree.
Maybe it is seen most easily in that vase, a vase my mother's careful hands filled with clear liquid. A liquid the same in color as the reflective surfaces ... and thus, the treasured additive lost the reflective quality built so intentionally into its design.
In a colored liquid, the crystalline properties would have refracted that light into an exquisite magnifying and glorifying beauty.
Therein lies the answer.
For me. For this clay, made in the image of God, created to reflect His light. For this clay molded by Divine fingers to glorify and magnify Light Himself.
But, to do so, I can't dwell with the Canaanites. I must keep myself free from being colored by the Canaanite pen ... free from absorbing their essence until it becomes mine. Failing to do so, I become invisible among them. Invisible, even to the seeking eye. Incapable of reflecting the light.
God's fingerprints, this morning, were all over that vase. As they are all over me, a fragile vessel of clay so lovingly molded by light. A vase into which He has added the priceless treasure of Himself. Transforming something simple, something ordinary, into something exquisite … that the facets of my life may reflect the dazzling brilliance of His glory.
© 21 September 2006
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