An Effective Vessel: an object lesson

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I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well – Psalm 139:14

I want you to imagine that I have placed three vessels in front of you with contents that are appropriate for each of them to carry. The first is a plastic shopping bag with groceries in it; the second is a glass vase with an arrangement of long stem roses, and the third is a pretty porcelain teacup with a teabag in it. What type of vessel you are determines your function.

To illustrate this, I wouldn’t drink tea out of the plastic bag, because firstly, if I poured boiling water into the bag it would melt it and secondly I’d find great difficulty putting it to my lips – I would probably empty the contents onto my face and body and get scalded by the hot water. Similarly, I wouldn’t carry the groceries in a delicate little teacup because it’s not pliable and big enough to perform that function. I would have to cut the long stem roses really short to put it in a teacup and that would take away the beauty of the arrangement. None of the vessels can do the other’s job effectively. Each vessel is suited to its particular function, the capacity and contents it holds and its capability and effectiveness to perform that function efficaciously.

The process of designing each vessel was different although the common factor used was heat. You’ve heard people say ‘I’m going through the fire’ or ‘someone turned the heat up’ or even worse still, ‘I’m going through hell’ (I certainly wouldn’t want the latter to happen to you because we know the final result of that – eternal destruction!) Have you let your ‘trial by fire’ shape you and make you more effective for your earthly divine calling? Are you burnt out or on fire for Jesus? Is your flame burning bright in a dark world?

You would not expect to carry the grocery bag comfortably if the handles were on the side, just as you wouldn’t put the handle for the teacup across the top of it. Thought and attention to detail has gone into production for its effectiveness, ease of handling and durability. Similarly we who are vessels are designed for our own individual purpose. We cannot, even if we tried – in our mental, emotional and physical capacities – to fill another’s shoes and take on their roles, burdens or infirmities. We are each designed to fulfil our purpose and our purpose alone. God has given each one of us the grace to deal with our individual circumstances and has reinforced us with His Holy Spirit – we are not left to our own devices. He has made us a promise that He will not give us more than we can handle without grace and an escape route! Corinthians 10:13

However, none of these inanimate items came with a label saying, for instance, “This bag has been fearfully and wonderfully made”. I would find that funny. But I know that Me, this vessel that God created, is “fearfully and wonderfully made”! Inside this vessel God, the Maker has placed some things for me to carry to the world – His divine commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel…” Mark 16:15; He has placed love in my heart “… for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts…” Romans 5:5, talents that I will be accountable for, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10.

What are you doing with your contents? Are you lugging around baggage that is old, redundant, useless, weighing you down, irrelevant, that is of no good and has no earthly value, or do you have a gift that is beautifully packaged to share with a dying, sin-sick world that is in dire need of the love of God? Are you being an effective vessel? Are you sharing or are you self-absorbed and selfish? Are you a refreshing drink to a thirsty soul? Can you carry someone’s burdens and share their load? Can you hold someone up in prayer? Can you hold someone’s hand while they’re having a valley experience?

I’m so glad that my Maker, the master craftsmen, the maker of heaven and earth is in the recycling business! I don’t have to patch up my brokenness with meaningless sex, a career, money or vanity – all of these things bring temporary pleasure and satisfaction. When He takes me, breaks me and then makes me into a vessel He can use, I am Brand Spanking New! I have a new mind and a new heart, transplanted by the Master Physician Himself! Psalm 51:10 I don’t look the same, I don’t dress the same, I don’t talk the same because I know my worth – I will praise Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!

Prayer: Lord you have chosen me, your broken vessel to carry your message of peace and love to the world. Help me to disperse it for a fruitful, abundant crop for heaven. Amen 🙏🏾

Faithfully yours,
Fiona Pillay


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