Crack Pots and Cracked Pots

bearerThere is an Eastern Indian folk-tale about a water bearer who had two water pots. Each pot hung on the end of a long pole which the water bearer carried across his neck and shoulders. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full pot of water at the end of the long walk from the river to home.

The other pot, however, had a crack in it. It leaked terribly and only arrived at home with half its load. For years the water bearer followed the same routine: He went to the river with the pots, filled them both, but returned home with only a pot and half of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of his accomplishments. He was fulfilling perfectly his purpose and design. And the cracked pot was constantly ashamed of himself, depressed that he could not do what he was made to do.

So finally, unable to endure his disgrace any longer, the cracked pot spoke to his owner one morning at the river: “I am ashamed of myself,” he said, “and I want to apologize to you.” The water bearer (who seemed unsurprised that a jar would speak to him) asked in reply, “Why?”

The cracked pot said, “I have been able, for all these years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. You have to do all of this work, and you can’t get full value from your efforts.”

The water bearer could only smile in return. “As we return home today,” he said, “I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” And sure enough, as they traveled away from the river, the old cracked pot noticed the colorful flowers on his side of the path.

At the end of the trail the water bearer asked the pot, “Did you notice that the flowers were only on your side of your path, but not on the other side? That is because I have always known about your imperfections, and I took advantage of it.

“I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the riverside, you have watered them. For years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my table. Without you being just the way you are, I would not have this beauty to grace my house.”

We are all, in our own way, cracked pots. But if we will be good stewards of our troubles, our limitations, and our imperfections, God will use these to change us and to grace his world. No, not everyone accepts his or her troubles and “cracks” as the means to something great.

We can look at what life has dealt us and be angry, bitter, mad-at-the-world, frustrated with ourselves, and bearing a grudge against everyone from God to the mailman. Or we can languish about in shame, victimized by our manufactured feelings of uselessness.

But if we do this, we waste our troubles rather than learn, grow, and develop into a more Jesus-like person. We miss out on simply doing what we can do, even if that means only watering a few flowers along the way.

I don’t think God looks outs out of heaven seeking to intentionally hurt people, no matter what some meat-headed Nimrod of a televangelist might say. He doesn’t harm us. He doesn’t cause evil. But he sure can use what has harmed us, and what is intended for evil against us, what cracks, dents, and breaks us – to transform us and change the world.

No, God isn’t after people, but God is after something in people: His infinite glory to be revealed in we, who are jars of clay. He is going to show that glory to the world, through us, the only instruments he has. And in our brokenness, our suffering, and through our cracks of weakness, the grace and glory of God will leak out over the entire world.