Hands

The last year (since about June 1st of last year) has been a tough one for me. Full of personal strife and struggles, conflicts and challenges, emotions and failures. I’m used to going from mountaintops to valleys, but after a year spent mostly in the valley, last Sunday morning, I woke up with an odd sensation in the pit of my stomach that when I began to examine it looked suspiciously like a desire to commit suicide.

I got out of bed and dragged myself into the living room, curled up in my recliner, and turned on my i-Pod. And when I heard a song about Heaven, it seemed to confirm that maybe there isn’t anything left here, on earth for me to do. Maybe Heaven is where I’m supposed to be.

There were a lot of voices in my head last Sunday morning. I knew that I was riding on a wave of emotions. I also knew that I couldn’t kill myself… that it was wrong. And I also knew that I couldn’t let myself drown in my emotions… mostly because my work ethic wouldn’t allow me to. I knew that my boss, 55 staff members, 145 campers, and their parents were all counting on me to show up that evening to check them in to camp. And that obligation—that responsibility—kept me on my feet instead of curling up in a corner like I wanted to.

On my way to work, I sent out a quick plea to about three friends—via email—to pray for me. I was too weak to fight alone. I needed help and I knew it and thankfully, I knew where I could get it.

That evening, after my 200 had arrived to camp, moved into their rooms, and settled in for the evening service, on the spur of the moment, I grabbed one of my staff members—a pastor who I’ve traveled in the mission field with twice—and asked him to join me for my rounds. And as we walked the perimeter of the Tabernacle, I told him about my recent desire to kill myself.

Because I know Barry very well, I wasn’t surprised when he began to cry. And as we sat on a bench and he began to speak, with tears running down his face, the depression began to break apart and fall away.

Jeremiah 18

At the Potter’s House

 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

I stared at the floor, wondering why I—usually a big crybaby—couldn’t muster any tears, even as I watched the tears fall down Barry’s face. Ashamed of my lack of feeling, I stared at the pattern in the carpet as my friend began to speak:

“Sarah, do you remember when God told Jeremiah to go down the Potter’s House? The clay goes around and around on the spinning wheel and the Potter’s hands shape it. And sometimes, after a while, those hands will crush the clay back down and begin again—but the clay is ALWAYS in the Potter’s hands. And even once the Potter finishes making the vessel, He puts it in the fire and bakes it and makes it strong.

“Sarah, do you remember the story of the three Hebrew children? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were bound when they were thrown into the furnace. But the flames burned off their bonds and they were free! They were never more free than when they were in the furnace! And when they were in the furnace, that’s when Jesus showed up. In the furnace was where they saw Jesus. And the world could look in from the outside and see Jesus, too.

“Sarah, I don’t know where you are right now… Whether you’re clay that’s on the wheel, being crushed. Or whether you’re being put in the fire. But I know that God’s not done with you yet. And I know that He’s doing something in you. And through you.”

Barry laid his big hand on my shoulder and began to pray. Though my tears didn’t come until days later, that very moment, I knew that the crisis had passed and that I was on my way to healing…

Lord, I don’t know where I am either. But I know that I’m in Your hands while I’m there.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Sarah,

    I am praying for you today. I pray that there will be more mountaintops than valleys in your life. May God bless and strengthen you every day with fresh mercy.

  2. Wow. Barry sounds like a wise and wonderful counselor. I’m glad you reached out to him.

  3. Sarah, thank you for being so vulnerable. And praise God you had the wisdom to reach out to another. Very good advice from your friend Barry, some I need to take myself. I pray your camp is encouraging and though it will be physically exhausting, that it will be spiritually renewing.

  4. Papa Bear says:

    As I read this just now, it rekindled how much my heart which was breaking last night as I heard you tell me about your feelings last Sunday. When we talked last night about this; even on Father’s Day this issue through me into a fit of anger against those who had hurt you and led you to this place of feeling despair. After talking with you and stewing over this in prayer for some time last night, God reminded me of this wonderful truth–I cannot fix this–only God can. I am so glad Barry was there to pray for you and not let you go on without support. The greatest thing about living as a Christian is that we are never alone. Though we may feel alone, and think nobody really knows what we’re going through, Barry was right when he pointed you to the Potter. Sometimes I want to fight against His hand on the wheel of my life shaping me into the vessel He wants me to be. Ultimately, if I am going to be faithful, I must yield and allow Him to form and mold me so that I indeed become His “treasure in earthen vessel.” Thanks for sharing this with all of us and especially for letting me be me to you. Early this morning I arose and the first thing I wanted to do was pray for you. After sleeping on what I had thought about last evening in anger, I asked God to forgive those thoughts and help me pray for you and what He would have me learn from this to help you or any other persons going through this kind of spiritual attack. As I started to pray, I realized I need to put it down in print as I poured it out to the Lord. I am sending you a copy later today.

  5. You hang in there, Sarah. Praying for you.

  6. What a powerful word from Barry and a great reminder to all of us that God is always present and at work in our lives.

  7. Love you.

  8. Continue to reach out to others, Sarah. We’re put on this earth to help each other. Galations 6:2. Praying for you.

  9. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the LORD, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

    It’s not over yet, Miss Sarah.

    I love you, dear.

  10. Annie K says:

    I’m glad you have people there to turn to. Praying for you Sarah.

  11. Hi Sarah, read your post. Honestly, your life is an inspiration to me. So don’t give up and don’t give in to the devil. There still are people you will bring closer to God through your life. :)

    Will include you on my prayer tonight. God bless!

  12. “The clay goes around and around on the spinning wheel and the Potter’s hands shape it. And sometimes, after a while, those hands will crush the clay back down and begin again—but the clay is ALWAYS in the Potter’s hands.”

    I can’t read that statement without tearing up.

    Next time I’m having a bad day, you can send that to me in an email.

    Praying for you.

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