Vessels of Earth

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7

For the past week I’ve been physically ill and have felt so limited.  My regular schedule already leaves me feeling, from day to day, that I can never accomplish everything that needs to be done.  My desk hardly ever sees the light of day, and the back burner never goes out.  Then, when you add illness on top of that, it is a recipe for feeling even less capable.  My illness has affected my throat and it is painful to swallow, let alone speak.  When you’re the pastor, not being able to speak makes you feel even more useless.  What good can come out of this?  How can being sick help me to do what God has called me to do?  Or what others depend upon me to do?

I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels…”  That is all we are, vessels of earth – of clay.  God has put the most wonderful, valuable, incredible treasure, not into vessels of fine gold or some other durable substance, but into frail, breakable, and unimpressive vessels of earth.  This was not a mistake on God’s part.  He purposely chose that we, who would carry the message of the Gospel, and know the riches of Christ, be nothing more than vessels made from the dust of this world.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” – Psalm 103:14

Have you ever felt useless?  Have you ever felt incapable?  Have you ever thought that you’re not up to the task?  Have you ever wondered why God didn’t choose someone else more capable, or who seems to “have it all together?”  Well, you’re not alone in wondering, but there is an answer if you’ll accept it.  “…that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”   God is not looking at our vessel the same as we do.  He does not expect our vessel to be impressive.  In fact, the less impressive our vessel is, the more impressed others can be with God instead of us.  It’s not our power, but His power that needs to be excellent.

Sometimes we just need reminders of what we are made of.  We are something He has formed and fashioned for His purposes.  Not every vessel will be the same size, the same shape, or for the same purpose.  However, every vessel has its purpose – not to be questioned by the vessel, but accepted by the vessel.  What matters is not what we want to be used to do, but how He chooses to use us.  Not what we can handle, but Whose hands we are in.  Not that we are trophies, but that we carry His treasure.  We are clay and it is futile – absolutely useless – to pretend we are anything more.  A reminder by illness or circumstances outside of our control are needed from time to time lest we forget the real source of excellency – the real power behind what it appears we do.  For our value is not determined by what we can do, but by the One who has chosen to use us earthen vessels.

Thanks for the reminder Paul!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Life’s A Coin Being Tossed

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” – Job 2:9-10

Struggles and blessings are two sides of the same coin. Have you met anybody who does not have some sort of struggle they are going through?  Have you met anybody who is not in some way being blessed?

We tend to talk about whichever side of the coin we are looking at. We describe what we are seeing, not what we are not seeing. 

To pretend we have no problems or struggles in life is to ignore that the coin has another side to it. However, to talk as if all you have is trouble in life, is to likewise ignore that your life has another side to it. 

But if it is true for us, it is true for others. When we hear someone speak of their troubles – let us not forget they are also blessed (even if they are not focused on it).  And when we hear someone speak of their blessings, let us not think that they have a trouble-free life. 

“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” – Romans 12:14-15

Allow those who are looking upon the blessings to have that time to rejoice, and rejoice with them. Allow those who are feeling the struggles to weep, and suffer with them for awhile.  

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” – Ecclesiastes 9:11

Let’s be patient with each other, because we don’t always call the coin toss the way the coin happens to land at any given time. Sometimes it’s heads, sometimes it’s tails – but having Jesus Chrsit as our Saviour – we never lose!

Waiting

None of us really enjoy waiting. We want to get to the front of the line, then continue to move on. Yet, waiting is a part of life; a reminder that there are other people besides ourself also waiting for what they need at the front of the line. 

Waiting is necessary. If you stop waiting you have given up and nothing else is accomplished. So, we wait; patiently or impatiently – is up to us. 

Funny are the thoughts that go through our minds while we are waiting. That fear that you’ve been forgotten and you’ll not be called is probably at the top of that list. “Do I remind them that I am still waiting? Or will that only cause more delay or less favor when I do get to the front of the line?”

Then there are what always seem to be those who have been waiting for less time but get ahead of you. This of course only feeds the fear that you’ve been overlooked. 

Patience eventually pays off and the mission will be accomplished. We just learn to accept we are at the mercy of others. 

This is the Christian life. There is a mission.  We are in a constant process that requires waiting. We move along and wait again. We are at the mercy of Someone – and He has not forgotten.  His will will be accomplished in His timing, not ours.  So, wait. When seems others are going ahead of you, trust in Him Who does all things well.