From Lisa Puckett
Whether it be broken dreams, chronic pain, crushing anxiety, never-ending noise, or a calling that once seemed clear and now is out of reach – In this we have hope: God promises to bring the very same power that lifted Jesus from the grave into your death-stained life.
When I read Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, today’s assigned text of chapter 4, verses 7 through 18, I am taken back to a memory of the first time I read this promise, at age 16, “We have this treasure in Jars of clay.” I see the clay pot that I saw then – the identity that I had, my hopes, dreams, 5-year-plans… and remember lifting it to Him, asking Him for a drink, expecting Him to fill it with water that leads to eternal life (John 4:7-14).
On some dark days (or dark months), now, almost 30 years later, I see that same pot broken, in pieces, lying in the dusty dessert sand, in the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). In those times I ask, Lord, how can these shards of clay be a treasure? How can they be useful in any way -- no less show your all-surpassing power? How can I be filled? How can streams of living water pour from me to refresh others (John 7:38)?
And in my desperation, in the prayer closet of my soul, I close my eyes and see a mighty whirlwind, capturing those broken shards, lifting them swirling up from the dust, rearranging them into a new pot, this one more glorious than the last, full of pulsing colors, with light emanating through the many cracks from a light within. Each piece is rearranged, turned to the left, right, upside down, inside out, but the same identity, body, hopes, dreams, and 5-year plans are His raw materials, all rearranged. He, this God of resurrection and redemption, has taken the pot I once was, allowed it to be broken, dashed against the rocks, and has Himself rearranged those pieces into a much more beautiful, glorious masterpiece than once before. This artwork of creation is a surprise to me, a new life from the dust, one of freedom, one of release. The pieces are still there, turned left, right, and upside down. The cracks are still there. One would expect them to be sharp reminders of hard times, but in fact, these are the very spaces where the light of God within now shines out into the world. The cracks of my brokenness the spaces for God’s glory to emanate. Dreams I once thought lost are fulfilled, but in grander, more creative ways, ways that are beyond what I could ever ask or imagine.
This is how Paul can say “we are hard pressed on every side, but now crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” This picture of a new creation, more beautiful than the last, helps me to understand how Paul can say, with joy and triumph in his voice, this perplexing, contradictory statement: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you!” And, again, just as contradictory and confusing, but life-giving to me with this picture of new creation in mind: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” In my prayer closet of the soul, I feel Him gently lift my chin, look into my eyes and smile with tenderness. He breathes out a sweet wind for me to catch into my lungs (Ezekiel 37: 9, 10); and I have hope, the anxiety washes away, and I can rest in His trustworthy, loving arms, and in His plan for me and those whom I love.
I am wife to Jason, mother to Cory and Joel, and one who loves to create, whether it be family dinners, solutions to challenging problems, databases, or oil paintings.