Last week, we hosted a Mother/Daughter BEADazzle party. Lindsay and I had learned (from another mom and her daughters) how to take various colors of clay and swirl them together to create beads. We thought it would be fun to share our new craft with other moms and daughters we know.

Our evening started out great. I taught everybody the ropes, and they went to work swirling various colors of clay together and rolling out their beads. Each set was uniquely beautiful and I couldn’t wait to see how they looked once they were baked and strung.

As everyone was munching on snacks and enjoying the company during our break, the beeper went off. I opened the oven door and gasped.

“Oh, no! Oh, NO! Oh, NOOOOOO!” I wailed. Everyone gathered around the trays of beads, which moments ago had been lovely and bright, but were now completely burned and black and bumpy, oozing all over the cookie sheet.

“They look like dried cherries,” someone said.

They look a lot worse than that, I thought.

I was horrified. I had wanted to send everyone home with a lovely piece of handcrafted jewelry, and now their hard work had been reduced to burned up little globs of clay, which were completely stinking up our house.

Thankfully, our friends are good-natured, and laughed instead of crying or stomping off. They made another set of beads, which they each said was better than the first. After they left, I carefully followed the tiny directions on the side of the package and baked at 275 degrees, rather than going off my memory and baking at 400!

I don’t think I’ll ever forget those globs of burned clay, and the feeling of complete chagrin over my carelessness. I wished so badly that I could turn back both the clock and the oven temperature.

There is coming another day of burned up hard work, which will be far more disconcerting. I Corinthians 3 says, “Each one’s work will be… revealed by fire and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work… survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss.”

The verses make it clear that our work will be measured individually. But I can’t help but think that our work for the Lord is also like a tray of beads going into the oven together. So much of our work is done collaboratively, and we affect each other so decidedly with our attitudes, levels of dedication, and belief systems.

I felt far worse about burning up my friends’ beads than I would have if the beads had been my own. I wonder if I’ll feel badly if others’ work for God is burned up, partly because of me.

Suppose I’m the kind of woman who insists on a standard of tidiness which completely stresses my family out so that they never feel comfortable practicing hospitality. Or what if I’m so demanding of my husband that he never has the extra emotional energy to use his gifts to help anyone but me. Or what if I’m such a spender that my family has no excess to give toward missions.

See how I have the potential of taking the hard work of others and turning it into burned little globs of stinky nothing? I want just the opposite for my life! I want to be the type of person who spurs others on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

We can’t turn back the clock or the temperature on God’s testing fire, but we can live in a way that is mindful of what’s coming. If we carefully read the fine print in our Bibles, we’ll have ample instructions on adorning our lives with bedazzling good works–both individually and corporately.

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