Value in the Vessel

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In my daily walk with God, I often feel intimidated or unworthy because of what I see others doing around me. I see other Christians planting churches or starting podcasts or generating their own nonprofit organizations. If I’m honest, it sometimes makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, like I somehow lose worth as their ministries take flight.

I know it’s not right, but this is me being transparent. I feel buried in the dust of others’ bigger projects. It makes me consider throwing down my own shovel.

But God reminds me that it’s not my shovel to throw down.

He reminds me that I am simply a vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7), and that thought is so refreshing every time. So much weight falls off of my back at the sound of those words.

What is a vessel?

The most common definition is a hollow container. These days, that could be anything- a water bottle, a Tupperware bowl, a glass decanter. In biblical times, people commonly made and used clay vessels. They held water, wine, leftover food, and whatever else needed containing. I’d think it would be easy to overlook them. After all, they don’t make the food, they just hold it. They don’t produce wine but only provide people something from which to pour it.

So many times, even as a writer, I fear that my words are not impacting people as I intended. If I’m honest, I sometimes get discouraged when I find that almost no one is reading or listening. Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you were doing something- with the right motives and mindset- that wasn’t really working out the way you planned? You feel like maybe your work has gone to waste because you’re not seeing any progress.

The comforting thing about being a vessel is that it’s not my job to save or change people. Only God can do that. My assignment is to remain open to Him doing it through me. As a vessel, I cannot fill myself with mud and expect to have space left over for the Spirit of God too. I can only pour out what is already in me.

God gives me the choice of what I want to contain.

Also, because I am merely a utensil, I cannot always know what happens to the substance that flows out of me. Does the medicine bottle know if its cough syrup cured the child’s respiratory inflammation? I believe it’s the same way with us and the Spirit of God. We don’t always see the end result. Sometimes all we see is the child’s face twisted at our flavor and feel like we failed. Or, at least, I do.

I begin to question if I’m doing something wrong because I don’t see what I expected. I’ve learned, however, that it’s not about what I expect. It’s about what God has planned. God knows His cough syrup will soothe our souls. He knows how long it will take and how bad it will taste at times. As a vessel, I am only a part of this process, and since God could technically do it without me, I’m honored to be.

But sometimes I’m broken. Does that make me useless?

Hillsong Worship has this beautiful song called “Broken Vessels”. The first verse says:

“All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty-handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free”

That’s just it! God doesn’t leave us broken and scattered. He doesn’t just dispose of us when we consider ourselves without value. God lavishes His mercy on us, and thus, mends us! He makes us whole again, and restores our purpose!

There's value in the vessel

Another bit of good news is that He can still use us amid our broken state.

As one big body of Christ, He makes us all to fit together like intricate puzzle pieces. It’s not just one of those baby puzzles where all the pieces are square and could arguably fit anywhere in the picture. No, there are specific, intentional places for all of us. Where one is missing a side, another has one to spare.

Yes, God heals us, but even before that healing, our weaknesses and failures weave us into the Body. They become testimonies for others around us and facilitate in building Christ-centered community. It’s crazy how God twists even innately bad things into a positive purpose. Where one is weak, another is strong, and so, we fill each other’s gaps in the context of the body of Christ. If we were all strong in every area, we wouldn’t need community. In that case, we wouldn’t even need God.

I bring Him my emptiness and brokenness, and He fills me. What an awesome deal!

Being a vessel, whether whole or not, means I have a place and a purpose. I don’t have to feel intimidated or unworthy, because God has deemed me priceless. Isaiah 64:8 says that we are the clay, and God is the potter. It’s not the state of the vessel that matters as much whose hands it’s in.

It’s not my power that changes the world, but His which flows through me.

 

Photo Credit: Swapnil Dwivedi

 

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Anomaly Jaie (A.J.) manages and writes for StudiedandApproved.com, a blog at the intersection of the Christian and student lifestyles. She is currently working toward graduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Public Administration, specializing in juvenile justice. In her free time, she likes to work out, play her guitar, and eat Publix rainbow sprinkle cookies.

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