Devotional Words Of Encouragement By Susan Niswonger / last month Share Tweet Pin Share I have spent a lot of time lately reflecting over my life, examining where I’ve been and where I would like to go. I wish I had written down my goals and vision of the future every 10 years and put them in safe keeping for later evaluation. What would I have written at 20, 30, or 40? How close would it be to my life today, how would my goals have changed, where would I be living, would I have a career, how many children, etc? I have never heard anyone say after 10, 20, or 30 years, “My life is exactly the way I thought it would be. I planned my life, followed the plan, and everything fell into place exactly as I had envisioned.” Whether you have had success or endured disappointment, your life is a collection of experiences. Experiences come in many forms and our response to them help shape us into the person we are at all the different stages. Let’s take a look at some of the things God allows in our life to help make us in His image. Have you ever been irritated about something or someone? We all have that special person in our life that “just gets on our last nerve.” I have been praying for help with life’s little irritations. Irritations start out small, if they are not dealt with properly, however, they can become sore spots in our lives. Pearls are a good example of an irritation that has been dealt with by the recipient. There are cultured pearls, in which a bead is introduced inside the shell of a mollusk, but the most valuable pearls are created when the clam is going about its everyday business. The clam is just floating along in the ocean when a grain of sand becomes lodged in the soft tissue. To protect itself, the clam secretes a substance called “nacre” which coats the grain of sand in concentric circles. The result is a beautiful round iridescent pearl. Too many times I have tried to expel the irritant from my life instead of letting the Holy Spirit transform the person or situation into a precious pearl. Every Christian must endure brokenness as they mature. We are all born with different muscles that serve different functions. As we mature some muscles become stronger than others. Look at your computer keyboard, the characters which are used the least are placed on the keyboard to be typed using your little finger. The little finger is the weakest and cannot endure the repetitive motion that the other fingers are subjected to as a document is typed. The little finger can become stronger but it takes practice and work. I do not lift weights but having raised two boys, I have gained some knowledge regarding the process. Lifting weights results in the actual tearing of a muscle, as the muscle heals the filaments or strands of muscle tissue become stronger. Just as the muscle must be broken to gain strength, God allows brokenness in our lives so that we can gain spiritual strength. Most of us are so concerned with getting out of the situation that we fail to see the Hand of God until the healing is finalized and our spiritual muscles are stronger and bigger. How much faster we would mature if we would learn to rest in God during the brokenness and let our spiritual healing take place. The final element God has used to shape my life is fire. I have always been fascinated with the process of glass-blowing. The artist dips the end of a heated blowpipe into a blob of molten glass then by using short puffs of air and a flame, the blob is transformed into a beautiful vase or other work of art. So many times my efforts have been reduced to molten blobs of sand. In my eyes the blobs are no more than symbols of all my failures until the Master Glass-blower starts applying the fire. As the breath of the Holy Spirit blows across my shattered dreams, God begins to shape me into a beautiful vessel fit for His service. So many times I have failed to recognize God’s work in my life, the irritant has been expelled with relief, I have given into soreness and refused to exercise the muscle or become so accustomed to defeat that I have chosen to remain a blob of self-imposed failure. Just as a small irritating speck becomes a precious pearl, the torn, exhausted muscle becomes a source of strength and a molten blob becomes a work of art, God will transform all the situations of our lives into something beautiful, if we will yield them to His plan.