Jars of Clay


Recently I read this quote by John Dewey:  “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”  Here are some of my recent reflections:

How should I respond when ongoing demands and tyrannical deadlines outweigh the available energy and mental/emotional equilibrium?  I was asking that question recently – if indeed I had the energy even to ask.  A tenacious sort of flu bug bit me and while I didn’t miss a day at school, I did miss quite a few beats.

I discovered anew that when my soul is too weary and drained, I can’t even hear my soul speak (another way of saying, I can’t hear the voice of the Shepherd).  For example, when Saturday finally rolled around, I heralded it like a long lost friend.  But I really wanted to go to a friend’s wedding and so managed to convince myself it would be OK to go.  Only it wasn’t.   A mere a day or two later, I looked back in amazement and asked, “Why in the world did I go?”  The answer is that I was afraid of missing out, afraid of staying home alone and feeling lonely.  I hadn’t even been sane enough to call someone to ask for advice.   I’m learning again that my soul desperately needs the input of others.

Indeed, I felt broken for days. I survived the days at school, but could  not function well.  Yet, I heard whisperings insisting that broken bodies are not to be despised, that they too can be beautiful instruments.

A broken body presents a clear, strong invitation to walk in the strength of the Lord.  Maybe it is more a mandate than an invitation.  The day before that friend’s wedding, I was at school, but not feeling well.  Many  wedding visitors stopped in at school during the day.  I felt like such a clod with hardly a smile to greet them.   Then after school, an out of state friend stopped in for a visit.  I was exhausted and had planned to hurriedly finish up and go home to take a nap before returning for our PTF that evening.

But my friend needed a listening ear and a touch of emotional care for her weary soul.  From me?  I had nothing to give.  Broken body.  Drained soul.  A ticking clock and a pile of ungraded work.   A cup completely empty. Yet, she was asking for something – something I did not have to give.  I didn’t try to contrive something.  I think now it was the mercy of God that I lacked even the energy to try to appear wise and helpful.   I simply sat and listened.  I heard a thought in my head.  I said it aloud.  A second thought followed which I also repeated to my friend.  She listened and replied, “Betty, I feel hope as I talk to you.”

I knew it was not me. I had nothing to give.  Without a doubt, it was the Lord.   We both walked out of that room feeling encouraged.  The whisperings became more audible and I recognized the words:  “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7).

I reflect and agree that broken bodies can be beautiful instruments of the Lord.

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