Pots and Pans
By Maria Fontaine
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I was contemplating the topic of wrong choices, after having made a few myself, and was feeling a bit discouraged. Do you ever struggle with how to look at wrong choices you have made? Most of us enjoy finding we’ve made right choices, and we can definitely see the benefits in those. However, it’s harder to see any good that could come from our wrong choices. We make plenty of those, from the small ones that we often sweep under the carpet, hoping that no one else noticed, to some real whiz-bangers. Have these left you feeling useless and defeated? Maybe you feel like no matter what you do, you’re never going to be able to make up for your mistakes. Perhaps it seems like the blessings that you would have received had you not made these choices have been lost and your life will never be quite as good or complete as it could have been without your mess-ups.
I believe that the Lord wants us to see the ups and downs we experience in life through eyes of faith. Whether we make a right choice or a wrong one, there are many good things we can learn. In fact, many times I think we learn as much and in some cases even more from our wrong choices.
Our right choices often result in blessings and a stronger connection to Him that we may experience more quickly. With the wrong choices, even though they do often mean that the road before us may be longer and more difficult, we can still gain the lessons and growth that we need. As we learn to look to Him to guide us in spite of our wrong choices, the harder path that those choices have taken us on drives us closer to Him in repentance. They provide a means to relate to others regarding their shortcomings. Eventually, the Lord will bring us through the difficulties that our wrong choices have resulted in, wiser and better prepared to proceed to the next stage of our spiritual growth.
Because of His sacrifice, Jesus can ultimately turn even our mistakes and wrong choices into greater victories if we’ll let Him. He can bring us to where we need to be, to gain what we personally need from this life and its circumstances. So when you make a wrong choice, the key is to learn from it, not to condemn yourself for your failures. The Lord does not condemn you.
As the Bible promises, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!”1 He is happy to see you recognizing the ways in which you can grow as you accept what He wants to show you from the situation. That is part of the “good” that He helps you to gain.
Look at the prodigal son. He willfully rebelled out of selfish greed. Although his path was longer and more difficult than his older brother’s, he learned to understand his father’s love for him. He matured through what he suffered. He lost his physical inheritance, but he gained something much greater. He learned to value his spiritual heritage, the love of the father for him, which was infinitely greater than the mere things that had seemed most important before. Though the older brother made a wise choice in sticking to the tasks the father had given him and was rewarded for it, he still made wrong choices that he too could learn and grow from, such as his lack of compassion and forgiveness when it came to the failings of others.
We should strive to do our best, to make the right choices. We can save ourselves a lot of hardship and struggle when we choose rightly. But we all have times when we fall short. It’s simply a part of why we are here in this life: to learn and grow.
It is impossible to avoid ever making a wrong choice. The goal is to use the good and wise choices we make to the full, and to turn the mistakes and wrong choices into learning experiences. Through these ups and downs, we can learn wisdom and the depths of God’s mercy and compassion and so much more that we can share with others. The Lord gave me a picture to illustrate this point. He said:
If I was looking for perfection in those who wish to live for Me, I would have made clones of Myself. I could have had you born as a clone, or I could have turned you into a clone when you decided to follow Me. But as you are well aware, though you are a new creature, you are still you. Sooner or later everyone makes a wrong choice and ends up in a mess. But I can use you right where you are. I’ll use you to reach others and show the inner strength that faith and love can give no matter what. After all, a well-worn vessel is still very useful.
For example, go into a well-used kitchen, one that belongs to a busy chef who is preparing some delicious meals. You won’t find shelves full of shiny, flawless pots and pans on display. Instead, the pots and pans have blemishes. They have grease stains, or nicks, or dents and more. Such a kitchen is a place of service. Do these flaws stop these items from being useful? No.
Ask any chef what his favorite pots and pans are. They will likely be the ones that serve him well, that are tried and proven. They’ll often be the well-used ones, and they’ll have the marks to show it.
Thank Me for the challenges in your life. Trust Me to be there with you, right where you are, and I will show you the next step to take. Trust Me to bring you through these times as a wiser, stronger, better person, who is accomplishing what I know will bring good fruit for you, for others, and for My kingdom. Instead of lamenting your mistakes or wasting time wishing you had made different choices, ask Me to put you to use right where you are.
You can be one of those faithful, useful, trusty pots and pans that are so handy and valuable to Me, your master chef. Together we can do wonderful things!
Originally published March 2016. Adapted and republished November 2018.
Read by Irene Quiti Vera.
1 Romans 8:1.