Up in the hills adjacent to our family ranch there is a spot that held great fascination for me when I was a kid. The spot was near a spring where, decades before, a man used to mine for gold. In my childhood, remnants of his wooden sluice were still there at the spring, and just above the spring there was plenty of evidence of his camp: tin cans long since made unidentifiable by rust and age, spoons, forks, glass bottles, shovel heads, and more. Digging around to find treasures left by an the old “digger” was one of my favorite pastimes. The experience left me with a love for the history that attaches to ordinary objects, and it also resulted in one particular white enamel-coated coffee pot that eventually became part of a fountain I made in my backyard.
This coffee pot was built to last, but alas, the years eventually took their toll on it. The enamel chipped away from the bottom leaving the metal exposed to the elements. Rust did its grim duty, eating completely through in some places. The once-graceful spout became jagged and frayed at the end, and the handle lost its weld at one joint. In short, the miner’s venerable old coffee pot could no longer hold water, so it was no longer good for my fountain. But did its condition make it “good for nothing”?
The Apostle Paul does not answer the question about my coffee pot, but he does suggest that the answer for Christian people of any age is “no”. In his second letter the Corinthians, Paul makes the case that people of Christ are valuable to the world as ministers of the Gospel and witnesses to the glories of the God’s Spirit. In chapter three Paul exults that God “has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the spirit…” (2 Cor. 3:6), and he goes on to remind Christians that by the power of that Spirit believers are, “…being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory…” (2 Cor. 3:18). While we are vulnerable, breakable, flawed, and cracked, believers are nonetheless infinitely useful. Regardless of our imperfections, and often because of them, the Spirit of God that is in us shines through to inspire and lead people to Christ. Paul said this “treasure” of the Holy Spirit is placed by God in we “jars of clay” specifically to: “show that this all-surpassing power is from God, not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). We are like jars of clay. But while our bodies are of limited durability, we possess unlimited, even eternal, purpose. For we Earthen Vessels, it’s what’s inside that counts.
This month we will be looking at some of the ways God fills we vulnerable, flawed and cracked vessels with his timeless and infinitely durable Spirit. We’ll look at how we celebrate what Jesus has done for us, how we appropriate the identity Jesus has claimed for us, how we can fulfill part of the purpose which God has ordained for us, and how we will one day return to the place God has made for us. These spiritual gifts of God are the stuff contained in our Earthen Vessels, stuff that grows richer, more substantive, and more vibrant as time goes on. As Earthen Vessels belonging to God, our cracks don’t leak, but provide a peek into the glory of God stored within us.
Paul once said, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor.4:16). While this may not be true for my old coffee pot, it is true for me and you who, by the grace of God, are Earthen Vessels made eternally valuable, in Christ.