Cracked Pots

(The following entry reflects on Harvey Carey’s message Hope Builds Hope, part one of Celebration of Hope 2017. If you missed it or would like a refresher of it, both the video and the transcript are available to you.)

But God, in His infinite wisdom and infinite knowledge, has chosen to take this treasure . . . and not place it in jars of perfection, not place it in people that have it all together. But God has sovereignly decided to place His presence, His anointing, His power, in jars of clay. Cracked pots. Jars that are often marred. Jars that are often broken. Jars that are often quite not what we want them to be.

 . . . I often believe that when we look at stories that we see on screens or we hear people on podiums, we almost feel like they’re in some kind of other world, they’re some other kind of folk . . .

Yes.

Do you have a hero?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines hero as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Or, in mythology and folklore, “a person of superhuman qualities and often semidivine origin.”

Disempowering, that.

Shouldn’t a hero be one who empowers? Someone who gives, here it is, hope?

I do believe a hero is courageous, but more in the sense that Brené Brown defines it—telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.

We are all broken vessels, cracked pots. But that is easy to forget. That others are, that is. I never can forget that I am one. But if I know and know and know that I am one and I believe that someone else is not, that doesn’t bring me hope—it brings despair.

Biblical Moses. You probably know him—know of him. He was a cracked pot. Not everyone knew it.

In Exodus fourteen, the last of the plagues has gone by. The firstborns have died—Pharaoh’s included. So Pharaoh says, “Go.” And the Israelites leave. Pharaoh regrets it, of course. The whole lot of Egyptians set out after Israel. The Israelites see them. And they lose their wits. So fearless leader Moses says, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (14:13–14, nlt).

But wait. The next verses say that “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground’” (14:15–16, nlt).

Why are you crying out to me?

In verse 14.5, Moses must’ve said something to the effect of: “God, we’re gonna die!”

It’s kind of funny, if you picture it. Moses faces the people, serene and collected, expressionless even: “Everybody, stay calm; there’s nothing to fear.” Moses leaves the people, his knees buckling, his voice breaking: “God!?”

That moment between God and Moses? It gives me hope. He was courageous before God, you might say, in all his broken-vessel-ness. And that didn’t cause God to say, “Well, fine, I’m leaving you to the Egyptians, then. Best of luck to you lot.” Au contraire. He, God, tells him what to do (“Move. Raise your hand. I’ll do the rest.”). And He, God, rescues them.

Yes, I have heroes. One of them, the real one, he knew he was about to die, and to a pair who was so close to him, he said, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38, nlt). And then He went, with courage, to His Father.

I compare that to Moses, and I wonder if there’s something to it. If I only knew the side of Moses’ story where he hid his broken-vessel-ness, I would be hard pressed to believe that God could work through me.

Yes, I have heroes. They’re courageous cracked pots. They make it safe to be a cracked pot, too—a cracked pot not attempting to varnish. A cracked pot that, like them, can be treasure-filled.