A potter sits at his wheel. He yanks off a hunk of clay. Making it ready for the fire, he throws and shapes it as he desires with his time-worn hands. Then places it in the flames.
He watches. And watches. At the right moment, he pulls it out of the fire and flicks it with his finger. Listening for the sound of the ping, the sound of the vessel singing. If the vessel sings, it’s ready. No sound of singing? He must put it back in the fire until it does sing.
In another fire. Three amigos, bound, fall down in the midst of a fiery furnace. A fourth man appears and the three are loosed. Not burned. Not singed. Not reeking of smoke.
But by the Grace of God. Ping! Can you hear their singing?
In another kind of fire. A man holds a dagger high in the air, his hand quivering as the dagger glistens in the sun. Sweat pours down his forehead. He holds his breath in anticipation of committing the most horrific act for a parent. The Angel of the Lord commands him to stay his hand of destruction.
But by the Grace of God. Ping! Can you hear this father singing?
The religiousites fill up with envy and sell a man as a slave in Egypt. But God is with him. The man goes to prison for something he didn’t do. But the Lord shows him mercy. And promotes him.
But by the Grace of God. Ping! Can you hear this man singing?
A man, preaching salvation, encounters other religiousites. He frightens them. Angers them. Threatens their security. The man is whipped, his beard pulled out. Spat upon. Humiliated. Nailed to a cross and thrust in the side with a spear.
This Man came from heaven “and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV) And they buried Him in a tomb.
But by the Grace of God…“raised Him from the dead.” (Acts 13:30 NKJV) Ping! Did you hear the angels singing?
In those other fires, those painful times we go through. The cutting away. The separation. As the brook Cherith is defined. The place where we experience the dwindling flow. “Of failing and of fading things, a gift of emptiness,” as F. B. Meyer calls it.
The burning away of the mean, the ugly, the hateful in our lives. The pain and emptiness that well up with a fountain of tears. Yes, it hurts. But a gift?
As the spring of some outward resource or some relationship dries up and leaves us wanting, do we remember this gift?
But by the Grace of God. Charis. This gift of Grace. It’s always there.
In our emptiness, in our wantings, in our separations, in the cuttings and prunings, in life’s fiery furnaces when we fall down, and in the dagger moments of threatening attacks, there is always…but by the Grace of God.
By this Cherith of Charis is where God feeds us with His Bread of Life and His Living Waters. “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16 NKJV)