“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”—2 Corinthians 4:7-10
The Word of God helps us understand that we are all made of clay. That truth has become clearer, especially during these days of social unrest, increased distrust, and the threat of a pandemic. Our human frailties and limitations are on full display, and many of our plans have been placed on hold.
How can admitting my frailty add any positive outlook to my life? There are several observations that float to the surface when I recognize that I am only dust and that my life is held in the hands of my Creator, the Potter.
- No one fights for my position. In this competitive world, none of us would like to be seen as fragile as clay. Our dreams can be disconnected from reality, and we may assume, especially those in the throes of youth, that we will reach every star. Some find it easier to step on others to reach their goal, which is normally viewed as mere ambition. I am confident that no one will fight for a position that would easily expose his or her weaknesses.
- I admit reality. One of the keys to healthy emotional intelligence is the ability to see oneself as one truly is. Arrogance and false humility provide a mask that hides the fear of discovery. I am only dust; I am only clay. It is freeing to be that transparent.
- I am fragile and delicate. A potter knows how to handle pottery. The Lord knows how to deal with me. He treats me gently. James 4:6 reminds us that God opposes the proud but is gentle with the humble. I find the Lord speaks to me with gentle love when I am shattered and broken at His feet, but with firm exhortation when I have been self-sufficient and proud. My greatest embarrassments have come in times of pride, and when I admit I am weak, He lovingly restores me.
- No matter how God chooses to use me, we are all made of the same clay. I can freely embrace my life’s purpose and condition when surrendered to God. What does it matter if I am called to serve on the board, asked to preach, or needed to clean the bathrooms? Just as our Creator formed Adam, so He has formed me. He has purposed a clear direction for my life. Why do I compare how He chooses to use another?
- I am replaceable. No matter how loved or special we are to the Lord, we can always choose to walk away. We often tilt our will away from God’s plan, which makes us utterly useless for the purpose we were once called. He restores and gives second chances. However, the void created will be filled by another vessel. I am inclined to be careful and reverent when called to serve Him.
- The Lord looks at the heart. The most beautiful of Christ’s disciples are those who allow His light to shine through them. We become more valuable to the Kingdom of God as we get filled with love, joy, purpose, patience, and grace. As we age, outwardly we diminish, and our youthful beauty fades; our talents can get overshadowed by that of others. But the more I allow His infilling, the more valuable I become to the Kingdom.
- I give myself grace. When I know I am clay in the Potter’s hands, I am gentle with myself. Forgiving ourselves, our mistakes, carelessness, and even our sins, allows us to focus away from ourselves and look expectantly into the eyes of God.
- I treat others with grace. As I forgive myself, I can forgive others. I can move on, even when treated unjustly. I can let you be who you are, even if it is not how I am. For you are clay and so am I.
It is incredibly refreshing to recognize our mortality. Yes, I am made of clay. And I can't imagine anything better than clinging to that identity formed by the Potter’s hands.
Robin Brunson Radi, along with her husband and children, serves as a Global Missionary for the Church of the Nazarene in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Written for Coffee Break.