It is very difficult to trust someone who hasn’t suffered. What do I mean by that? The Lord is looking for people who will carry His heart. Unfortunately most of us believers live on the surface. We may be able to speak about “meaty” issues or go deep at times, but we are unable to dwell in the depths. When we go through suffering it carves a cup of sorrow deep within us. The deeper that cup goes, the greater capacity for Jesus to fill it with His heart. Now many may disagree with me here, but the truth is that our ability to care for others depends upon how deep we have suffered ourselves. When we go through loss or pain that shatters our heart, something DEEP happens. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is a process we must willingly submit ourselves to.
My story arises out of an eighteen year (journey), (trial), (struggle) with physical affliction. It was during a time of great breaking in my heart that Jesus visited me. He held an ordinary grey vase in His hand. Inside this vase I could see a flickering light but because of the thick grey structure it was barely visible from the outside. I could see that Jesus loved this vase, so it startled me when He held it up with both hands and then dropped it. Falling to the ground, it shattered into many pieces. As it did, I felt, “Oh my, that is how my heart feels now.” Then I heard, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
As I heard this, Jesus looked down at the broken vessel so tenderly and with such deep compassion. Truly, I felt His own sorrow in the breaking. When pain hits you hard, you have this feeling of being all alone. Instantly, I knew how close, how very close our Lord is to us in deep pain.
Next, Jesus knelt down to the vessel. Lying in broken pieces all around, it was unrecognizable except for the light that had been inside. Now the light was sitting on the ground with nothing to support it, yet nothing to close it in. Then Jesus began to work with something like a huge hand that came from above. I knew this to be the Father’s hand. It was like a swirl of light and color, and though I saw this process in a matter of minutes I knew it to be much longer in our time.
“What were they doing?” I thought. Then I saw a vessel being formed around the light, a beautiful stained glass vase. The colors were magnificent and Father and Son were taking their time, giving very special care to this vessel as if it were the only one in the world.
As the vessel took shape, I saw words beginning to form on each segment of stained glass, Love, Peace, Faithfulness, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control, Long-suffering and Joy. Then came three segments that they really seemed to take their time on – purity, and I heard, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Meekness, and I heard “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and Truth, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
As these final ones were put in place they seemed to secure the light and all the fruits of the spirit formed around it. Then Jesus stepped back and watched as the Father poured a golden liquid into all the segments, securing them together and completing the work. I felt instantly in my spirit, “That is love from the Father’s heart,” which I heard described once as liquid golden love. I cannot emphasize the beauty of the finished vase or the incredible love and admiration on Jesus’ face when he stepped back to assess the work. Oh how He loves us! “I am not done in or cancelled out by any means, “I thought. It is the opposite!
The Lord began to explain to me. The jar of clay is us and the light is our new birth which takes place when we invite Jesus into our heart. But we still have our jar of clay, our old man, to the degree that we have not dealt with it. Jesus commands us to take up our cross and follow Him. We are told (instructed) to lose our life for His sake and He will give us a new one. I had sought to answer this call from the Lord to the degree I was able to, asking Him what needed to go from my old self and seeking to obey. But I found my old self so hard to get rid of!
This is when Jesus said He stepped in to help me. I am not saying Jesus causes suffering at all. Suffering is in the world due to sin and the enemy. I do know that many times the Lord will divinely intervene to stop suffering but the opposite also happens. Suffering comes to all of His children. The only difference is the degree and type of suffering we go through. What I do know is that it is hard to break our earthen vessel on our own. But until it is broken, the light of Jesus (which came at our new birth) is dim, hidden by walls of clay. The potential of great beauty exists within us and may flicker at times, but the Father’s intention is to unleash it!
When I received this visit, I had been on this path for I was ten years into my journey. But it was then that I felt my heart so broken I didn’t know if I could go on. The Lord then showed me that there are layers of our old self – outer, inner and innermost.
Outer dying involves losing the external things we hold onto that give us false identities. This can be described as losing the bad in order to receive the good. We lose these in order to receive a newer, truer identity in Christ. The next layer is harder but so worth it if we are willing to embrace it. It involves dying to things that are not bad, they just aren’t His best for us. We also allow the Lord to speak to areas of our heart that need to be broken. There is pain here but great fulfillment in walking closer to Jesus.
Finally the ultimate breaking is when we fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus, laying down our life for Jesus’ sake alone. Involving incomparable pain it is done simply out of obedience and love for Jesus, and a desire for Him to receive glory. We give up everything in this crushing, all our hopes, dreams, desires, and all of our ways. It is the ultimate cleansing that is necessary for true union with Christ. (Jn 14:23, Galatians 2:20) No self, no gain, no profit. This is Christlikeness in its purest expression, and the place of perfect union for which we were originally created. I know to those who undergo this breaking there is so much glory upon this vessel!
We all have the choice before us. We can go thru difficult circumstances solely in the strength of our outer man. The result is that our clay vessel now has thicker walls and light within is dim. Or we can break apart during a great trial, allow Jesus to speak to certain areas and remain on the altar as stained glass is formed. However, because we have known our clay pieces for years it is so EASY to pick them u pin our impatience. The result is a jar of clay with segments of stained glass – a mixture of spirit and flesh. And finally there are those broken vessels who are remaining in the Father’s hand as He gently pieces them together with His words of life and their submission to Him. These are presently being formed into GORGEOUS vessels of honor and beauty. Filled with the Father’s heart they are completely transparent, with their light within fully exposed, displaying the marvelous character of Jesus Christ Himself.
Then Jesus explained to me how they will always be broken in the sense that He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing. Separate pieces of glass, formed thru surrender, submission and obedience, are personally fitted together by our Lord. These are then held together by the Father’s golden love which is the strongest force in all the universe! “Oh my,” I thought, “this is what Jesus desires to do in our heart if we will let Him.” It is a process over time and every vessel is unique in its suffering as well as its potential for glory. Despite the deep pain in my heart, I was so encouraged with the beauty of the vase being completed. This is how we become one with Christ, for the fragments are formed directly from this nature – He is in us and we are in Him! (John 14:23)
It is easy to run to people, places or things in time of despair and turmoil. But over and over the Lord would whisper, “It is about your vessel. Tend to your vessel.” He is gracious and merciful to us, for He is the High Priest who sympathizes with all of our pains. But He so longs to become one with us right in the midst of our pain. If we will remain broken and in the Father’s hand, we will receive the greatest reward, Jesus himself formed within us in all of His glory.
“If any one loves Me he will keep my Word; and My Father will love him, and We will make our home with him.” John 14:23
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
I know that the fruits of the spirit can be cultivated by a sincere heart at any place and any time in our Christian walk. However, I have discovered that our times of need place us in a position to pull on Christ’s nature within us or gravitate more toward our (earthly nature and its resources) natural resources. When we pull on Christ, He releases Himself and His spiritual resources to us. He desires to give Himself completely to us, but only to the degree that we desire Him completely!
When I am in distress I need His peace. When my enemies persecute me I need His goodness in order to bless them. When I am struggling to believe I need His faithfulness. When I am exhausted from all directions, I need His Kindness towards even those that I dearly love. When I am frustrated with people and genuine issues, I need His gentleness towards them. When I am tempted to complain, I need His self-control. I love the joy I have had thru my life when everything is going great for me. But I can say with all my heart that disappointment and discouragement have threatened joy more than any other fruit of the spirit. And the big “Ds”have succeeded I will admit. What I discovered, however, is that true joy comes from Jesus’ heart and purpose for us. It is tempting to pick up false joy but at the end of the day disappointments and discouragement are still there. Over the years I have pressed into James 1:3, Romans 5:3-5 and I Peter 1:5-7. Moments of joy are welcomed and embraced, but deep abiding joy that transcends all emotion is the true treasure we must dig deep for. “So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich.”
When I feel beaten down and unloved I need the love of my Beloved not only to love others but to go on in the high calling. (Phil. 3:14) And finally, I had a little long-suffering before the breaking process. But as my trial has expanded yearly so I have found the perseverance I had is not sufficient. I confess that I have tried so many times to persevere in my natural man, picking up the broken pieces of clay and interfering with Jesus’ work. But His graciousness keeps Him close, ready to run to us when we surrender our struggle. It is then that He releases Himself for He is our strength, and this is perseverance.
©2011 Deanna Deering