I was thinking about our bodies, how temporal they really are. Obviously I’ve thought about this more since a cancer diagnosis one year ago. They are given to us for our time here on earth to dwell in. It’s amazing how they function and how all the different systems and organs work together so we can do what we need to while we’re here on earth. This week I feel like I had my 50,000 mile check-up and I’m good to go. I had the week off from work and had more doctor appointments and tests than I would have liked but hopefully won’t need much more for another 10,000 miles or so. I wish somebody would create some kind of “frequent flyer miles” for the amount of time I have spent waiting in offices! Anyway, ironically we are only taking care of jars of clay!
Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing.” (CEV) Man was made from the dust of the earth. Our bodies are nothing more than earthen vessels with a spirit inside. It’s no wonder that after a period of time, exposed to the elements of life that they begin to decay and break down as we gradually age.
I love how the Bible shows God as the potter and mankind as the clay. “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) He takes the dirt or clay in this case, and fashions each of us into a unique vessel. Understand that this is a long process. The potter needs to dig the clay out of the swamp. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 (NIV) The clay is not perfect to begin with and must be prepared for the potter’s wheel. It has to be moldable and be able to hold up under stress. The potter creates pressure with his hands to work the clay and orient it in the same direction as the wheel or it flies off.
The potter has a plan for the clay. One of my favorite verses is, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) You were born on purpose and for a purpose. (Psalm 139) Little air pockets or any earthen impurities in the clay can be fatal and will wreck the whole pot. They need to be removed and worked out.
The clay can only be worked in the center of the wheel. If it’s anywhere else it will go around in circles until the centrifugal force throws it off the wheel. There are spiritual forces trying to pull you away from your relationship with Christ. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) If we are centered in the Lord’s will we will be in a place of rest.
As the potter works the clay he applies pressure both inside and outside the clay. He draws upward lifting the clay to the height he wants. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10 (KJV) It takes time. The work on the inside is reflected on the outside of the vessel. The clay always has a lot of potential but it has to be willing. Once molded, the weak and porous clay vessel needs to go into the fire at 1,800 degrees F. It gets lighter, harder and purified. “When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
If there are any marks on the clay, once it goes into the fire the marks cannot be removed. Scars tell stories. The past cannot be undone. Give the things that have scarred you to the Lord. “To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory.” Isaiah 61:3 (Message) A coat of glaze goes on the fired piece and it goes back in the kiln at 2,350 degrees F.
Clay that sits out exposed, unused, not in the potter’s hands, dries out. Clay needs moisture in order to be moldable like the washing by the Word of God. The potter paid a price for the clay but he still can’t do anything with the clay if it’s drying out and brittle. He can’t force more water into it. The clay at this point must completely dry out and then the potter will break it into pieces, pulverizing it before adding water to it. Ouch!
Giving the vessel a specific form and function or calling makes the vessel useful. We are each equipped to do something here on earth. You may feel like you are broken and worn out, useless, unable to function in any capacity. We are cracked pots but we can still function. I will close with a favorite story about the cracked water pot.
“A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After 2 years of what perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes to leak out all the way back to your house. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.” Author Unknown
We are all cracked pots and all have flaws in our earthen jars. Allow the potter to use you for whatever He has designed you for. It’s not about the vessel but the treasure within. “Treasure is kept in clay jars. In the same way, we have the treasure of the good news in these earthly bodies of ours. That shows that the mighty power of the good news comes from God. It doesn’t come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIRV)