~The Cracked Pot Story~
|*image credit: Dawn Klinge|
A water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master's house.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, "As we return to the mistress's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?
“That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.
“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress's table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house."
This ancient story comes from India and the original author is unknown. This fable’s moral is sometimes explained as: we are all cracked pots and we should allow Jesus to use our flaws for his Father’s purpose. That is good, but if we stop there, we’re missing out on something beautiful- a lesson in trust. I first came across this story and analysis in Brennan Manning’s book, called Ruthless Trust. He argues that such moralizing places an additional burden on us, telling us one more thing we need to do- in this case, to accept our flawed selves, but that this is not, in fact, the Good News of the Gospel. In light of the Gospel, there is another way to look at this story.
According to Manning, it is this, “ trust yourself as one entrusted by God with everything you need to live life to the full.”
The way God made you is not a flaw. That the pot’s weakness became its strength is where the beauty of the story is. Let’s take the word, flaw, out of the picture.
Romans 8:28 (ESV) says,“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
St Augustine took this even further, when he said, “All things work together for the good of those who love God, even our sins.”
Do we sometimes have that same narrow view of our own lives, assuming we know the purpose for which God made us? We are disappointed when we presume to know the outcome of whatever it is we have set out to do. Might we instead rest in the truth of what God has promised and trust that we are completely loved as we are? Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection means that we already have everything we need to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives. He already sees us as perfect- not because of what we have done, but because of what he has done for us. With Christ in us, we are equipped with everything we need, for his glory. We simply need to trust God.
Dawn is a writer living near Seattle with her husband, Derek, and their two kids, Grace and Trent. A gatherer of friends, she enjoys seeing how many people she can host in her tiny home. A church girl her entire life, she’s still trying to figure out what it looks like to put her trust in Jesus, so she’s blogging a book about it @ Above the Waves. You can find also her on Facebook.