Week 18 Saturday

Mere Vessels

Today’s scripture selection: Second Corinthians 4-5

Key verse: Second Corinthians 4:7


     Do you ever feel a little beaten up around the edges; a little chipped and cracked?  Then you may know why the apostle Paul chose to talk about how we, like him, carry our spiritual gifts in “clay jars.”

     In Biblical times clay jars were like today’s Styrofoam containers.  You couldn’t go through a day without seeing one or two or a hundred.  They were common; found everywhere; useful – but certainly not pretty or “priceless.”  We’re not talking fine wedding china – we’re talking throw-away paper plates.

     So, what an interesting image to use to describe the containers we are.  What was Paul’s point?  Let me let him say it for himself:

     “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ 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.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”   

     There it is: battered about by life’s struggles and challenges we might find we are beaten up, chipped, cracked, “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair” – well, you see what he’s talking about it.  You may even feel what he’s talking about.  But – here’s the good news – even though we hardly feel up to the task, thanks to the incomparable power of God, we carry life in us – not death.

     It seems to me that what Paul is getting at is that God chooses to use us – these odd, little, beaten up, battered about creatures – to still do remarkable things.  We do it under God’s power – and not our own.  And, in that way, we bear witness to God’s strengthening power and grace at work.

Maybe there are days you wish that you had a little less pressure put on you – that you were a little less “cracked” around the edges.  But on those days, just take a moment to pray for God’s strength.  That he will use you, not in spite of your weak condition – but especially because of it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself strengthened and renewed in a way you would’ve never thought possible.

That’s the miracle of it.


Prayer: Lord, especially when I feel weak, inadequate, and broken – use me, your common vessel, to your glory.  AMEN.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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