During my sophomore year of college, my roommate, Amy, and I were up late one night editing stories for each other. In a somewhat typical occurrence, we got into a deep theological discussion about whether each of us was more like Mary or Martha (from the Bible story in Luke 10) and whether we were like Walt or Roy Disney (the brother duo who created the Walt Disney Company . . . for further explanation, read Me, Myself, and Bob, one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books).
We rather quickly decided that Amy was a “Waltha,” a creative do-er. (I said it was a deep discussion, not a serious one). I, on the other hand, found myself stuck, unable to decide how the contradictory parts of my personality fit together. Sometimes I preferred to serve, other times to worship. Sometimes I was a creative dreamer, other times a logical planner. Sometimes I relied on my feelings, other times on my thoughts.
“I know!” Amy exclaimed. “You’re a Waltery Roytha!”
It was a cumbersome moniker, but appropriate, and it has stuck in my memory ever since. More often than not, I appreciate the differing parts of my personality as they allow me to relate to a wide variety of people and work in both creative and logical ways. But sometimes my Waltery side reacts emotionally to a decision Roytha thought had been made a long time ago. Or other times, Roytha has to think through all the possibilities while Waltery would prefer to get on with life. In both instances, my heart feels like a thorny briar patch I’d rather not tread through.
Most recently, it has been the Roytha half that has been giving me the most trouble. You see, Roytha can be a bit of a know-it-all. Roy analyzes all of the details to find a safe path forward, while Martha makes sure everything goes according to plan. With so much evidence and planning in her corner, Roytha is confident in her plans and pretty darn sure she can fix any problem that comes her way.
But recently, I’ve become very aware of how many broken parts of this world I can’t fix. I can’t fix the problems my friends are facing or that the after-school kids I work with might be dealing with. I can’t fix situations we’re facing in our churches, or city, or nation. Most of all, I can’t fix the doubt, fear, anxiety, or impatience of my own heart. And not being able to fix even my own heart really, really hurts.
Yet, in the midst of that hurt, God has been sweetly, graciously whispering His wisdom. Don’t be afraid, He says. Trust me.
When I think about it, I can’t think of a single character from the Bible who fixed himself or herself or any of the problems surrounding him or her. Abraham couldn’t fix Sarah’s barren womb. Joseph couldn’t make Potiphar believe he was innocent. David couldn’t bring Uriah back from the dead or keep his infant child from dying. Mary Magdalene couldn’t cast out her seven demons. Peter couldn’t hold back his fear or keep from denying His best friend. Paul couldn’t break himself of his pride or self-righteousness.
Truthfully, the more common occurrence in the Bible was for people to face problems so big they couldn’t help but acknowledge their need for Someone greater. I think that’s how God prefers it . . . because which of us would ever admit our need if we never faced a problem we could not fix?
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?
A potsherd among potsherds . . . as a broken shard of pottery, what right do I have to try and fix anything or anyone, including myself? None at all. It’s a lesson God has sadly had to remind me of more times than I care to admit. But when I slow my frantic attempts to fix things and calm my heart long enough to listen to His whisper, there is comfort in knowing the Potter is at work. He sees my broken shards, and He knows just how to make them whole.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
. . . Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” . . . The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
Gently, He calls me to let Roytha go for the time being and instead to remember Waltery, the creative worshiper who finds strength by sitting in quietness and trust at His feet, listening to His words of wisdom.