Despite the fact that my children are growing up and can now dress themselves and bathe themselves (yes and amen!), I well remember those exhausting days when they were young and I was overwhelmed. I remember one particularly trying day that included a trip to KMart resulting in a meltdown. Mine. I remember crying out to God--quite literally--in my frustration, saying "I can't! I can't DO this! I just can't!"
Through my tears, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart: "That's right. You're exactly right. You can't. But I can."
A couple of months ago as I was praying, I found myself asking for strength to handle this situation, and for God to take care of this other, and for me to be able to handle this, and for this circumstance to change, and so on. Then I turned to my devotional reading for the day which included 2 Cor. 4:7,
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
While there is certainly nothing inherently wrong in asking God for strength or the ability to handle a certain situation, I realized in my prayer that particular morning I was really asking God to make me "untouchable." I wanted strength, not to show off His treasure in my weakness, but to no longer be weak. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I wanted Him to take it all away. Or at least allow me to handle it all.
You know those fiber cement pots? That's what I was asking God to make me: strong, beautiful, indestructible, able to handle anything. Don't get me wrong here. God has strength to give us, His all surpassing power for we who believe. But it is strength in our weakness. Power from Him, not from us.
I am no fiber cement pot. I am the jar of clay: ordinary, common, cracked, brittle. Easily broken and of little worth. But, though I am weak, He is strong and His strength is best shown, not in fiber cement, but in the baked dirt of the clay jar. Consider what John MacArthur says in his must-read book, Hard to Believe:
Paul called those who carry and preach the treasure of the true gospel..."earthen vessels." "Earthen vessels" is frankly too dignified a term...This is a cheap baked clay pot, unrefined, ugly, breakable, replaceable, valueless. It's the little pot in which you put your plants.
The contrast is staggering. We have this treasure of the glorious light of the gospel, the one shining in our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, in us--in cheap earthenware...
...we're baked clay. We're privy pots. The advance of the gospel will never occur on account of us.
I can't. He can. He calls me, not to handle it all thank you very much, but to boast in my weakness so He may be strong. As Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:9,
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
I was praying for God to take away my weakness; Paul boasts in his. Why? So he could know the power of Christ. This challenges me to be grateful for those things in my life, those circumstances, those weaknesses, that keep me desperate for His grace and His power. Not only to be grateful, but as Paul testified, to delight in those weaknesses.
And then I will find His grace sufficient and His power made perfect, not in my strength, but in my weakness.
May God's all surpassing power shine through this pot of baked dirt...
"Baked Dirt," originally published May, 2007