Becoming Clay


As if I have any chance of successfully conveying my spiritual experience in Israel, I find myself staring at the cursor that's blinking at the end of this sentence. Too much to write. Too rich. Too many angles. That's why A.W. Tozer's quote is so fitting. I feel like somewhere along our journey, God breathed on me.

Somewhere in Israel, I changed.

Was it when we were sailing on the Sea of Galilee? Storms were no match for Jesus, after all. Maybe it happened when I was on the Mount of Beatitudes? Blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers. Or perhaps it happened when I waded into the River Jordan to be baptized; dead to sin, alive in Christ. I left the old Jimmy under the water, no doubt. I think in all of these situations, God was doing a wonderful work in me.

But I know exactly where I was when I became clay.

The white, outdoor chairs were warm from the sun. The tour was almost over and the next day would be our last in the holy land. When the pastor began reading of those six hours on Friday, I felt my skin changing. Somehow my DNA was being altered and any last pieces of my outer shell were breaking.

Walking into that empty tomb, I was Thomas touching scars. I was a flat-footed Peter looking at my feet on the waves. I was the woman at the well. I was both the mocking criminal and the soon-to-be saint. I was Bartimaeus after receiving his sight and the rich young ruler afraid to part with his toys. I was arrogant Saul blinded by grace. 

By the time he and the other pastors read about the third day and the stone being rolled away, I had become a malleable mess. To think that after all I've fought through physically - good and bad and with all the highs and lows - my frail, little body was merely a few feet away from where Jesus made it well with my soul.

Indeed, as Loretta and I took communion in that garden, Jesus wrote me a note in the dirt and I became clay.

- Jimmy Peña

Lord, thank you for waking us up with new grace and mercy. Breathe on us today. Amen.

For Discussion: I've been a follower of Jesus for nearly 35 years, but isn't it amazing how we can still pursue Him? Do you remember when you became clay? Say 'amen' in the comment section.

In Praise of Dave: My friend Dave and his wife Lori were on the trip. Salt of the earth. Some of you may remember them from the Summer Challenge. Well, give it up for Dave because he lost 35 pounds to prepare himself for all the walking he'd need to do in Israel. Right!? He did what he needed to do physically in order to be blessed spiritually. I remember shouting some encouragement his way while walking up the hillside of Masada; a place where ancient battles once raged. It seems warriors still visit on occasion.

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