As Christians we are supposed to be strong and triumphant, winning spiritual battles and belting out the gospel, taking strongholds captive. Whilst this is true, what is equally true is our very weak nature which means that we have to rely on God to do anything.
One of my all-time favourite music artists is Rich Mullins who was a very grounded man and simultaneously whose artistry in music is soaring. You may recognise the chorus, ‘Our God is an awesome God’, however Rich Mullins also wrote and recorded one of the most poignant heart cries ever put to music, “Hold me Jesus, ‘cos I’m shaking like a leaf; you have been king of my glory; would you be my Prince of Peace…”. Between those songs we recognise that God is awesome and we are weak.
In the fourth chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of us believers being Jars of clay with treasure in them. We have the immense and profound truth in us that we are holding out to the world, and yet we are so frail.
“6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (NIV)
It seems that God prefers using broken people and broken situations to perform his work:
- Mary’s alabaster box which she broke (Mark 14) to prepare Christ for burial; others considered it a waste whereas Christ said that she was right;
- The broken ship; the wreck experienced by Paul (Acts 27, 28) that brought his testimony to Malta;
- The roof that was broken (Mark 2) for the paralytic to experience healing; Jesus did not rebuke the men but saw the faith and healed the paralytic;
- The body of Christ broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Of course these are not the only examples, but a reading of the Scriptures presents a slew of broken people, situations and things that ultimately served His purposes.
I personally would rather that he not use brokenness with me, however he is the potter and I’m the clay. Have you ever thought about God creating mankind on day 6, getting His hands in the dust and forming Adam?
The Hebrew word for dust in Genesis 2:7 is aphar (Strong’s #6083): clay, earth, mud, ashes, earth, ground, mortar, powder, rubbish. You will see in this list a common word we can associate to dust: clay. The term clay refers to a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which is generally plastic (moldable, stretchable) when hydrated and will harden when dried or fired.1 Did the Lord God use water with the dust to form man? We can’t be sure, but Genesis 2:6 says water was present: “But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
The Kingdom is made up of those who are malleable as God showed Jeremiah in chapter 18 of the prophet’s book, and those also willing to be used by God, as cracked as they are as God showed Paul in 2 Corinthians 4. The Kingdom is made up of those whom trendy society rejects, the outcasts and embarrassing.
In this week I read of an encounter between a street preacher in Glasgow and a gay man riding past on his bicycle. The street preacher was considered to be an embarrassment and the gay man enlightened because the gay man said: ‘I love me, I don’t need a god to do it.’ While there may a context as to why the man on the bicycle said that, think about what that means: that his love for himself sustains him, that he doesn’t need God.
As mere clay I have no right to be angry at God when he performs his prerogative, but this I do know: we all need his love. And He knows we are clay, it’s not like God forgets and expects awesome things from us. Think about that, and that one day there will be an end to brokenness.
Again from 2 Corinthians 4:
“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.”