I could see her walking across the room with an unsteady gait, mouth slightly twisted in discomfort and eyes clearly focused on me. She’s that woman at church that everyone loves but no one fully understands. She knows who and whose she is. She moves fully in dignity and strength and is clothed in a beautiful combination of both unique and practical clothing.
I see she has what she would call “a word” for me, so a take a deep breath, open up my heart and walk toward her. I know that the words she has for me will be truth covered in love. She and I have different understandings of scripture and expressions of worship but I trust that she hears from the Lord. Why? Because I know her. I know that she spends her life seeking the Lord’s face and clearly hears from Him. I see how she vulnerability shares her bruises and brokenness in such a way that the Spirit of God simply flows out of her and all who encounter her are blessed by His presence. She is the essence of transformation that is born out of both power and vulnerability.
To be honest, I really struggle with pride and its less becoming cousin EGO. If you ask the Lord to allow you to see yourself as He does, prepare yourself for some surprises. Haha… Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me about the truth of power and vulnerability. I read in Genesis 2:7 that the triune God poured himself fully into humanity. As Paul says it, the fullness of God lives inside simple, fragile, flawed jars of clay — us. I can’t quite get my mind around the idea that we are breakable beings housing our immortal, omnipresent, loving God, but I feel empowered by it.
In our culture, we have this underlying belief that power is everything and to survive we must make every effort to cover-up our cracks and weaknesses. DON’T BE VULNERABLE. Because of that, we can place tremendous value on the condition or appearance — our Clay Jars. We make gyms our places of worship, sacrifice prayer for planning, and replace intimacy with knowledge. We equate a beautifully maintained vessel with God’s image. Thinking that somehow worldly beauty = spiritual health. We see people who excel academically or have career success, are involved in community, live as happy families, are in good physical health and do nice things as “Good”,“God Fearing” or even more “Valuable. What we fail to see is that often we spend all our time caring for and investing in what is on the surface and temporary rather than, like my friend, nurturing the beauty inside of us — a relationship with the Lord. We become, as Jesus says in Matthew 23:27-28, White-Washed Tombs.
This ingrained cultural belief has even made its way into the core values of the western church — we call it excellence. And in the church world, it looks like pastors with perfect families, worship sets with coordinated lighting, a church service ending in exactly one hour, and people “filled up”, “feeling good” and ready to take on the world for Jesus for another week. Our churches run and look flawless, but the truth is they are also dying…
So what can we do?
Every day we are given a choice to nurture our ego (jar of clay) or our soul (God in us). Because, the reality is, we can’t choose both. Can you imagine what the church, missions, our neighborhoods and the world would look like if we chose to nurture our soul and allowed God’s powerful light and love to flow vulnerably out of the cracks in our jars of clay?