Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jars of clay and lit coals from a fire

I spent the last two days with a group of women my sister has been in fellowship twice most months for the last eleven years.  Shoot, I can hardly think of anything I've been doing for eleven years.  Oh wait, maybe writing my book (just kidding, it hasn't been that long, not a year over eight).  These women are older and younger than my sister, come from two different towns here in the Palouse, and, on the surface, don't necessarily look to have much in common.

Except Jesus.  The one and only reason they've come together for more than a decade is to bury their hearts and minds in the Word of God and to come up, not only smelling like a sweet aroma, but more ready to live whatever God has called them to live.  And it is a sweet aroma to see how they care for each other, how they finish each other's sentences, know each other's foibles, love each other anyway.  I felt privileged to sit with them. Privileged to listen to their stories, to laugh and eat, and...well, sit with them.

And, yes, privileged to get to share some words about the Word, some thought about He who thought us all up to begin with.  It's a dangerous thing to handle the Word of God, to even think He would entrust it to me, and entrust me with sharing it with these women, with any group.  It's something like handling a coal lit from a fire.  It really is.

Except that it's what He asks us to do.  This is what we talked about this week end, that He takes the clay pots that we are, and fills us--each of us--with the inexpressible treasure that is Himself.  Ordinary, average clay pots filled with glorious, eternal treasure.  Those women, me, each of us, just plain old ordinary pots.  But what is within-- that's the lit coal from the fire of God Himself. His all-surpassing power, enough to be the Light of the World, to vanquish death itself.  That's the treasure we're given.  I'm overwhelmed by this tonight.  Overwhelmed by the Word, by the words we shared together about the Word, and about the Incarnate Word who is always present when such a company is gathered.  I know I'm gushing, but I don't take these moments lightly, or complacently.  It's no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I love to talk.  And I love Jesus.  So when the two intersect and I get to talk about Jesus, especially with people hungry and thirsty for Him, it's a balm to my spirit. An honor and a joy. To get to--to be allowed to--handle His word, to bring this lit coal to others...I'll never get used to the privilege of it.

And the responsibility.  The deep, humbling responsibility.  Watching women take my words seriously, write them down, ask me to repeat them.  If I thought it was something I had made up or was doing myself, it would be my undoing, if you know what I mean.  It's with light hands that we must handle His word, teach it to others.  Only in surrender to Him should one--should I!!!--attempt it.  In such set-apart moments--like Sundays, during worship-- we are the church, when we speak together, it's words of eternal value.

Yes, clay pots.  Ordinary, trivial clay pots.  It's only what's inside, where Christ is, that the extraordinary, powerful treasure resides.  And...only in broken-ness, is that treasure revealed.  Think about it. 

"For we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:7

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