Earthen Vessels

The verse just leapt off the page.  Have you ever had that happen?  We were sitting in a small group in Sunday School and someone was reading 2 Corinthians 4:1-15.  But my mind stopped at verse 7:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.”

“Earthen vessels”.  “Jars of clay”.  It’s a term that is meant to communicate weakness, fragility, and frailty.  That’s the phrase that stopped me in my tracks.  And it was because that is what I felt like.

I was tired.  Physically tired.  Mentally tired.  While things in our lives (my husband and me) are not horrible, this summer and now into the fall has been challenging.  It started with a trial that I thought had a light coming soon at the end of a short tunnel.  I was hopeful.  I had faith.  But it turns out the tunnel has been long and there’s no light right now.  And I am tired.

As the reader in our small group continued, my ears tuned out while my mind went to similar verses:

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might, He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait on the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”    Isaiah 40:28-31

I don’t like weakness.  I never have.  I think my first sentence was “I can do it myself.”  And being single until you’re 44 means you get to live that out more than you expected or really ever wanted to.  I want to be strong and independent.

But the verse that leapt off the page reminded me that I’m not.  It made me face my weakness – my earthen vessel.  My jar of clay.  My tiredness.

And it reminded me why God made me this way.  Made all of us this way.  It’s so that I will be drawn to depend on Him instead of being independent.  Drawn to take His yoke instead of carrying my own.  Drawn to experience His grace instead of depending on my self-effort.

And it’s so that He gets the glory.

So I’m still tired.  At least physically.  I guess it would help if I went to bed earlier! But I’m done with trying to muster up some strength to endure or with coming up with a solution to make it all better.   Instead, I’m choosing each day to focus on His grace and His strength and respond to His invitation to come to Him no matter what I feel like physically or emotionally or mentally that day.

Do I hope the light shows up at the end of the tunnel soon?  Sure I do.  But then there will be another tunnel one day.  And another.  And some of them will be even harder tunnels than this one.  But the grace will always be there.  The “surpassing greatness of the power” will always be there.  The gentle and humble Savior will always be there with rest for my soul.