Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on faith and being shaped by God

Being Shaped Like a Snowman
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” 
– Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Two storms converged 
– a surprise snowstorm and writer’s block. In past seasons, such a meeting of two unexpected events gave me rationale to fret and worry. I now see storms as opportunities. The snow from the unusual weather gave me the unique opportunity to build a snowman. The writer’s block offered time for me to seek another creative outlet. Both were occasions for unplanned joy! Gathering a carrot, some coal, and donning the appropriate attire, I headed outside to construct a masterpiece.

The snow was great for packing, ideal for snow creations because it sticks to itself. I remembered being taught to roll a snowball so that it would grow by picking up the snow on the ground. I excitedly began the rolling process. Soon I began to wonder whether the teaching on this rolling technique actually came from watching cartoons.

Effort after effort of rolling snowballs proved futile as the “ball” would become too heavy on one side and crack apart. I decided to try an alternative way to form my snowman by assembling a large mound of snow and topping it with progressively smaller mounds. Even this method proved difficult as the snow would fuse together while I carried it to the work area. So, I implemented a third approach by allowing large blobs of snow to fuse to the body of my snowman and then attempted to shave it down.

I don’t know the science behind snowman assembly, nor do I have any education in the arts of ice sculpture, but this experience began to open my eyes to something spiritually applicable to my life. As I persisted, I wondered how many techniques God has used to create the vision He has for me.

Like the “snowball” strategy, there have been times when I have picked up way more than I can handle. When I was in my thirties, a management position became available early on in a new job. It looked like the best way to advance quickly, but I crumbled because I did not have a foundation that could sustain such rapid and lopsided growth.

The “mounding” method of adding smaller layers of growth has been effective most of my life. Daily Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, service, and Bible study have all been disciplines that offer consistent growth in my spiritual life. Looking back over the countless Bible studies I have participated in, and reading old sermon notes, it’s clear that this method is open to a sloughing of my memory. I quickly and easily forget lessons that hold great importance. God must know just how much to mound on and have abundant grace for the sloughing off! Growth would otherwise not happen.

What ended up being the most effective way to implement my vision for the snowman was the “shave it down” tactic. This can be considered somewhat a combination of the first two methods by piling on too much and then removing the excess. I’ve experienced this style when pride accompanied an area of big growth. When I first discovered that I had a gift for teaching, my head got way too big. I had all sorts of plans for myself in my new found talent. Thankfully, God cut off the excess from my cranium by removing teaching opportunities.

Ultimately, I did create an adorable miniature snowman. It took longer than expected, but the time and process were well worth it. The convergent storms gave me an opportunity to look at how God has worked to shape me. Seeking the joy in a recess, rather than resenting thwarted plans, is one example of growth in me. I’ve also become less likely to crack as my foundation has increased with years of experience.

Amazingly, God’s vision for my life is now my desire too, and I seek His scalpel to cut off any offensiveness in me. God has proven Himself in utilizing all weather and circumstances and using it for His good will in each of us.

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior. 

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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