A few years ago, I was part of an anonymous prayer and gifting group at church called Secret Sisters. For my birthday, my Secret Sister had thoughtfully selected a book, delicious teas, and a lovely artsy mug that reminded me of fall. I was so excited, I unpacked the bag when I got home, set everything out, and my then toddler promptly grabbed the mug and dropped it on the hardwood floor, breaking it into pieces.
Like a rational adult, I cried (I may have been pregnant…). I was so sad that such a thoughtful gift was so short-lived! I had to go out after this little incident, and while I was gone, my husband collected all the pieces of that broken mug he could find and glued it back together for me. (Yes, I cried again.)
We are, each of us, that ceramic mug. Each of us, a vessel: chipped, cracked, broken, damaged, unable to repair ourselves. And yet we are earthen vessels, carrying the light and truth of Jesus in these broken bodies and sinful hearts.
How in the world can we hold anything if we're shattered and scattered?
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
And this, reminding us that Jesus truly came for everyone and no one has fallen too far away to be mended and used by God: “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”
Broken is a beautiful place to be. The purpose of us being a vessel for God is to show HIS power and reveal HIS glory. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7. The whole point of making us fragile and weak is so that God can rebuild us, hold us together, make us useful for His purpose, and revert His glory and power. (Side note: NLT calls this section “Treasure in Fragile Clay Jars” and I now hold the opinion that other translations missed the mark for not doing the same.)
Have you ever tried to fix something you treasured that broke? Maybe it went something like this: you started fixing. The pieces wouldn't do what you wanted, nothing was cooperating, and you got frustrated so you had to back away because you became upset. After calming down (maybe a few hours, days, maybe you slid the box of pieces away and didn't come back for a long time), you tried again, still sad and hurting, but with a renewed sense of purpose. You made progress! But where's this little chip? And that shard? How did you miss pieces? Upset again, you step away, wondering if your treasure will ever be whole again. Maybe you seek help from a loved one, who has patience for the task. Slowly, your treasure becomes whole once again. And your heart hurts a little at the scratches and cracks, but you are so grateful it's together and proud that you (or your loved one) took the time and effort to piece it back together. It's not the same now, though. Maybe it fulfills a different purpose now. Maybe it's become something new all together.
Maybe it is just as we are to God.
Let me tell you, that mug works beautifully in spite of the chips and cracks still visible from its tumble. It's amazing what a little trust, patience, and love can mend.