From broken shards

by Barry Newton

On a cool summer morning in Dunoon, Scotland, many years ago, I heard that a pottery shop was going out of business and selling its wares at extraordinary prices. Although I was late to the sale, I did manage to pick up a few items, including a decorative canister.

Through the years, that clay container has served me well. But not all ceramic pottery is like my canister. Through misuse or accidents, hard brittle pottery can be smashed into pieces, rendering it useless for its original purpose.

In some ways, the story of our lives can be like fired clay. We find ourselves broken, incapable of fixing ourselves and hopelessly insufficient to live up to the spiritual purpose our Creator intended for us.

The apostle Paul, however, wrote about a power that God uses within human lives to fix what is broken, creating, if you will, whole pottery capable of fulfilling its divinely intended functions.

In fact, Paul prayed that God would grant his people spiritual wisdom to know “what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength” (Ephesians 1:17, 19 NET).

Paul knew that for us to escape from merely being shards of broken pottery in order to fulfill their potential, we needed to have an accurate knowledge of God.

Before unveiling the actual power that God pours out in the believer’s life, Paul provided a wonderful illustration of it. God’s power raised Christ up from the dead and placed him above every authority and dominion (Ephesians 1:20-22). The ability to bestow life upon three-day-dead organic matter is power indeed!

Turning to believers, Paul then recounted how God’s power works in us. When our lives were shattered because we were dead in sin, God raised us up to become alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7). God takes our irreparably broken lives, recasting them and infusing them with life.

So, how does this knowledge of God help the believer live worthily of the calling he has received? Part of that answer is found just a few verses later:

“For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

If you belong to Christ, God has made you and shaped you to be able to fulfill what God desires from his people. God takes us as broken shards and shattered lives to make us spiritually alive with Christ, capable of fulfilling his purposes.

When facing the future, Christians can live with confidence and the encouragement that their God has prepared them to do the good he has requested. From Ephesians chapters 4 to 6, we learn what it means to live up to God’s calling. Disciples, for example, are to forgive as God has forgiven them. They are to imitate God’s love as well as shine God’s light into the darkness. They are to make the most of every opportunity.

What a wonderful blessing to be able to look forward with confidence that you have been created to live up to God’s purpose!

“Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21).

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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