Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Body: Unadorned Clay Pot

"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 the glory of God 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. 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." (2 Corinthians 4.6-11)

One of the discussion questions at the women's forum this weekend was, "In what ways have you seen beauty show up in pain?" The obvious answer for me was childbirth. The birth of a child has got to be the most straight-forward, downright, most miraculous and wonderful result of pain on the planet. I can't think of anything that compares.

Although a close second would be the worst hike I ever took: 6 miles straight up a mountain in Austria. There were blisters, tears, hunger, burning lungs, lots of spitting, willing the legs to move when I couldn't feel them anymore. But then when we got to the top of the range..... It left me speechless. Angels were singing. A cool breeze waft across my sweaty brow and I stood there shaking, mouth agape as before me in all directions were layers upon layers of mountain summits, their colors fading from the dirt and grass I stood on to smokey purple and fuchsia and gold as far as the eye could see. To this day, it was the most beautiful, serene thing I have ever laid eyes on. That view made the day's torturous trek not only worth it, but a victorious testimony of what my physical body was capable of. -Ha! I was nowhere near dead! It was my spirit that has a tendency to be weak and vulnerable; my attitude that is shaky. That's why I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Phil. 4.13)

But the most significant, meaningful way I've seen beauty show up in pain has been in the way God has taken my broken, wounded, betrayed and sinful heart and saved it. Changed it. Renamed it. Redeemed it.

In my previous post I explained this clay pot I live in. The skin I'm in. My shell. It's not my best feature.
In living with an addict, I have been majorly stressed out, confused and uncertain, definitely abused, disrespected and taken advantage of, and my heart has been dealt repeated blows. But each pain I have felt has also been carried by Jesus on the cross (plus those of the rest of humanity). I believe that is what it means that we carry around in our body the death of Jesus.

But Jesus didn't stay down. Jesus conquered death! Jesus is alive and he is inside of me, as promised!
So, I may be an unadorned, clay pot....but check out my strengths:
  • I am at ease, composed, emboldened, proud, reassured, fixed, whole, connected (not crushed!)
  • I have confidence, faith, cheerfulness, hapiness, hope, joy and trust (not despair!)
  • I have been adopted, cherished, defended, maintained, supported (not abandoned!)
  • I am intact, protected, restored...saved (not destroyed!) (...and thank you,!)
This is the life of Jesus, being revealed in my clay pot...after being devastated by betrayal. There were times when I prayed for God to just take my life because the pain was so great. I remember late one night after a major disclosure, on an errand to the drug store in a sketchy part of town, thinking it wouldn't matter if I were raped and stabbed and left for dead, because I couldn't imagine a betrayal and pain worse than the one I'd just suffered.

I'm telling you, if you can't remember anything about the Bible, if you know nothing else, remember this: Jesus carried the burden of the whole world's sins on the cross: He died in my place. And then rose from the dead. And is alive still. It's so simple! The pain of the whole world's betrayal is worse than the pain and betrayal I have suffered, that's what is worse. And because he lives, so can I.

Beauty from pain!

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