Jars of Clay – Unadorned Clay Pots

clay potThe beautiful gray haired woman had a soft weathered face and always wore a dress with stockings. Even though she lived alone she could cook up a storm into her late 80s and early 90s! Guests and family visiting her home would enjoy a spread of multiple meats, numerous vegetables, homemade cornbread, yeast rolls, and two or three desserts as well as a congealed salad she usually left in the refrigerator until mid-meal when she would rise from her seat exclaiming, “Oh, my, my, I forgot the congealed salad!” as she scurried to retrieve it from the refrigerator. Her food and hospitality were expressions of her love and attracted folks to Grandma Vera’s house!

She lived by herself until she passed at age 93 and was always serving others – never without food or treats for the school children who would drop by her house on their way home. She allocated her food scraps to stray dogs in the neighborhood and had a heart for God’s creatures and his people.  Strengthened by difficult times during the depression when her husband lost everything, she raised two children, and worked as a schoolteacher to support her loved ones in an era when most women were at home raising their young ones and tending to daily chores.
I’m blessed to have a number of her keepsakes; her hairbrush and mirror, the old jar of clay and the dining room table where we not only ate smorgasbords of delectable southern cooking, but where children gathered to play cards among cousins and cringed to be the ‘one’ who ended up with the ‘old maid’ queen of spades!

Jars of Clay

The worn clay pot is simple and unadorned, a treasure no longer used for carrying and storing staples like milk, or butter.  Now, whether it has flowers in it or is empty on our hearth, it reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. …..For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I love verse 7-8 in The Message version:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.

With the love of Christ, you and I are like my grandmother’s old jar of clay:

  • We can hold beautiful and essential things of God!  They may be flowers of joyful smiles and they may be the buttery, smooth, satiating goodness of words of encouragement we share with others.
  • We can pour the refreshing and nourishing love of God on others with our words and actions!
  • We may look fragile, but we are handcrafted, have history and hold the hidden treasures of the Potter!
  • When we are broken, the loveliness within us is no longer hidden from others and the Potter will take the crushed remnants and fashion them into an even more beautiful and more useful jar!
Father, I pray your incomparable power will be reflected and poured out of us each day – even if it means a few scratches, cracks or chips on our clay pots!  Let us reflect your image this day remembering that you are indeed the wonderful, rebuilding, master Potter.

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