We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. We carry the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NCV)
In Biblical times it was customary to hide valuables in clay jars or pots which had little value or beauty of their own. Because the vessels seemed plain and ordinary, they didn’t draw attention to themselves or the treasure within.
Today, people will do anything and everything to draw attention to themselves. The goal is to make our “vessels” appear almost flawless. Millions of dollars are spent on creating the airbrushed illusion of perfection. We attempt to perfect our bodies through plastic surgery, make-up, clothes, exercise and diet programs, and elevating our minds through multiple educational degrees, self-help books and conferences, frantically trying to fix ourselves in an effort to refine and beautify these “clay pots”. Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to be our very best self, but could it be that all our desperate efforts to make it appear that we “have it all together” be the very thing that limits our usefulness to God? We try to hide all our flaws and deny our weaknesses, ashamed of them, desperately filling in the cracks of inadequacy with useless things, hoping we’ve hidden our deficiencies so others will admire and accept us. How does that help the other person that is fully aware of their own cracks of imperfection?
A number of years ago, author and speaker Patsy Claremont, coined an expression “God Uses Cracked Pots”. I love the freedom that is revealed in that declaration. As the trials and pressures of life begin to crack my clay pot, the radiance of God contained within begins to shine through those cracks. As this vessel gets more and more cracks and seems to lessen in value, the glorious radiance of God that shines from within, increases and the priceless treasure is revealed in greater measure. What a paradox; the thing that makes me feel useless (being a ‘cracked pot’) is the very thing that makes me most useful in the hands of God. It’s very humbling being a cracked pot but I’ve found it very difficult to see God’s glory and power in someone who is full of pride. The very source of their pride: the illusion of perfection created by making sure all their cracks are filled in, is the very thing that limits their usefulness to God. The absolute insufficiency of man reveals the total sufficiency of God.
The apostle Paul experienced the truth of this which he expresses in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (The thorn in his flesh: his “imperfection” and personal trial) But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV)
Paul allowed his own insufficiency to reveal the total sufficiency of God. When the Apostle Paul realized this fact, the power of God in his life was unstoppable.
Life is hard and takes a toll; the older I get the more I recognize just how “cracked” this vessel is. But in addition to that revelation, comes the awareness that truly, my deepest desire is to allow God’s glory, power and grace radiate from within. So, I’m going to put away the super-glue and cease my useless attempts to fill in all the cracks of this clay pot and simply let God’s light shine.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 NIV)