Earlier this month I had an unfortunate experience that has continued to haunt me. It seemed an epic fail, a rolling snowball gathering speed until it crashed. It was the result of many issues beyond my control — although that matters little to others involved. But it was also partly my own fault. That really burns. I might have avoided some problems with a bit more foresight.
I was disappointed in the results. I was disappointed in myself. I so hate to disappoint other people! I was disappointed in others, too. I hold out some slim hope that it was not as bad as I thought but really, I know better.
I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. This morning when I woke up it was still with me. Enough! I had to do something about it. So I did what I should have done days ago: I dove into the the scriptures. There is always good counsel there.
I didn’t know what I was looking for. In those situations I usually start online, searching by keyword or phrase for a nugget to get me started. But this morning I decided to continue my New Testament reading, chugging along with Paul. And it happened that the very next passage was well suited to my situation. It often happens that way. It’s a God thing.
Meanwhile, all this time, most of my energy has been inwardly focused. I’ve been edgy and anxious, somewhat worried, still embarrassed. This morning’s passage reminds me that it really isn’t about me, ever. That proper perspective is critical. And that my response to a challenge or disappointment is always the most important part.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. … That is why we never give up. … For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. … So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. 2 Corinthians 4:7-16
When Paul wrote his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, he was encouraging them in the face of hardships and persecution such that I’ve never experienced. That helps to put my problems in perspective. But only when I allow his theme to settle in, rereading the passage through various translations, do I gain peace.
I know he speaks the truth: I am nothing more than a common clay pot, so easily broken and destined for dust. I have no bragging rights. Any beauty, all goodness within me is entirely the grace of God. My sole purpose for being is to glorify him.
As Patsy Clairmont once said, “God uses cracked pots and I’m the visual aid!” I’ve surely been feeling it this past week. My cracks and flaws are painfully obvious. Yet for reasons I cannot fathom, the God of the universe has chosen to infuse me with his spirit. It is a precious treasure! His light within shines out through the cracks of my imperfect vessel.
Hopefully, we learn something from every failure. I learned a few somethings in that experience. Unfortunately, I don’t get a re-do. I can’t avoid failure altogether in the future. I’m a clunky clay pot. My only hope is in God. He lives within me because has redeemed me. He can redeem anything, even this situation.
May God help me to recognize that it’s not about me, ever. It’s always about Him. In humility, with integrity, I can allow Him to shine through my brokenness. A clay pot has little value except for what it contains. By God’s grace, it becomes priceless!
~ René Morley