Of what value is a broken pitcher? Everyone readily understands that a pitcher serves only one purpose: it is designed to be a vessel for holding water or other liquids that might be easily poured out. Once the pitcher is broken, it is useless and worthless. If the pitcher were made of some valuable metal, such as silver or gold, though the purpose for which it had been made was lost, the pieces would still have some commercial value. But a clay pitcher? Sweep up the broken fragments and toss them in the trash because nothing of value remains.
We are all familiar with the account of Gideon and of God’s command to take pitchers to serve as a covering over lighted torches so that they could surprise the enemies of Israel, the Midianites and Amalekites, while they slept. As Gideon’s small band of three hundred men approached the sleeping camp of their enemies, they blew trumpets, broke their pitchers, raised their torches, and proceeded to decimate their startled foes as God brought confusion on the enemy so that they began fighting among themselves.
Many believers have noted the obvious parallel between the clay pitcher and our human bodies, which God originally fashioned from the clay found in Eden. Like a clay pitcher, each of us has been designed and manufactured with abilities that suggest a clear and specific purpose. When we add to that fact the natural inclination within us to use those gifts in the way they obviously suggest, we often find ourselves headed in an inevitable direction. Good voice? We sing. Facility with math? We engineer. Persuasive? We sell.
But then the Lord touches us, not to strengthen us or turn us in the proper direction, but to break the pitcher, to render the vessel utterly useless. And we must be reminded of several truths. We are not our own; we belong to the One Who made us and Who can and will do with us as He wishes. The use for which we were created may seem obvious to us, but God may have purposes beyond our ability to recognize (or even accept initially). It may be that the gift the Lord has given us was given for no other purpose than that we might have something to give back to Him, something to sacrifice on the altar of His will, some gift of love that we offer to Him. We are intended to realize that the Lord does not need our talents; He could easily raise up a thousand—a million—with superior abilities if He wished to do so.
But whatever the reason or reasons might otherwise be, we must learn that the pitcher obscures the light, which will not be seen until the clay lies shattered on the ground in a thousand fragments. For left to our own devices, the best of us will invariably use our God-given abilities for our own purposes. And even when we intend to honor the Lord, we will retain selfish motives and imperfect desires. Only when we see ourselves for what we are, only when we have recognized that we are just worthless shards of pottery, will the Light be seen. Only when we have been broken and have turned to the Lord will we be able to radiate His glory.
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