October 14, 2010


I guess a cup is only useful/ For the hollow of its shape
The brokenness in me/ Is the need that holds your grace  
         --"Standing in His Place", c. 2000, Five Foot Six and a Half Music

This lyric from a Justin McRoberts song has often crossed my mind; the images it calls up are ones to ponder. Too often I'm impatient that God isn't using me or having me do what I want to do, only to find out that all of me must be emptied first.

For various reasons, this has been a season of emptying. God scrapes away parts of me I consider essential, I reach a raw state of surrender, then find that all he removed was actually dead weight and not part of his creation. I've added bits here and there over the years... time-tested ideas about myself and about life that are actually lies when I examine them directly.

I begin to see that complete emptying has to happen before a vessel can be filled to serve its true purpose. There is no room for any volume of good if it happens to get mixed with the mud of my pride here, controlling over there, etc.

Emptying the pot is only the first step. Once emptied, the pot must be examined for cracks that I've repaired with wax -- injuries and hurts I tried to mend myself so that my life would appear to be whole. When heat comes, those clumsy repairs will quickly dissolve and reveal the underlying brokenness. Only the potter can mend a shattered vessel, because only he builds with truth. His mending is visible; shattering turns into scars -- but the pot is at least useful again. Once the pot is sincere (from the Latin sin cera, or "without wax"), it can be filled to the brim and put through incredible heat without being damaged or even marred.

I dislike the emptying. I loathe the heat that reveals my waxy mends. It isn't fun to find that patches you put in years ago are actually worthless. I'm beginning to see, though, that it isn't a matter of me liking the painful process, but wanting -- truly wanting -- to be filled at some point and serve my purpose.

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