Empty Vessels

Do you have Bible verses that God uses on a regular basis to both remind you of where you’ve been and where he’s helped take you? I have a bunch - for some reason many of them come from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! I love being reminded of the truth of who I am in Christ - I will not become a new creation, I AM a new creation - despite the reality of this journey we call sanctification.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10: Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. We all have “stuff” in our lives, things we wish had never happened or would just go away - but they don’t. We all have our own best plans for how change should happen - and often it doesn’t. I love being reminded that weakness is an opportunity for God’s strength to infuse my feeble body and give him glory in the process. I love the truth that I become strong in Christ when I am at my weakest!

Then there is 2 Corinthians 4:7-12: 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. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

There is an inexplicable beauty to 2 Corinthians 4:10 - simple clay jars filled with priceless treasure. Back in Bible times clay jars were the equivalent of today’s plastic bags - the stuff of life that got used and then thrown away without so much as a thought or second glance. That’s you and me - common, simple vessels that God fills and uses in ways that can only be from him! Every time I sit behind the microphone at KCWN, I become a living example of God’s priceless treasures being placed into a crumpled up grocery sack. Somehow God’s strength is greater than the chronic pain that some days makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear; in Christ I’m able to do things I thought were impossible!

Max Lucado has a similar word of encouragement in today’s devotional titled “Empty Vessels.” He recounts the conversion of Saul to Paul. On the road to Damascus, on a mission to root out and destroy the believers of “The Way,” Saul encountered the risen Christ. Max describes the scene like this:

God left him there a few days with thick scales on his eyes. The only direction he could look was inside himself. And Paul didn’t like what he saw. He pleaded for mercy. He was never the same. And neither was the world.

Max Lucado ends his devotional with these simple but powerful words: God’s power shows up best in weak people. Cracked jars of clay. Crumpled plastic bags on the floor in the back seat of the car. You and me - weak vessels made strong in Christ.