You know those cute little pictures in the gardening magazines and Pinterest boards with the adorable little outbuildings for gardening supplies? The area I use for potting up plants is aptly named “Pottersville” due to the seedy, unkempt nature of the space.
The secret to a homey, charming little potting shed as opposed to — well, mine — is to use only clay pots instead of those ubiquitous plastic pots. However, you almost never find plants for sale in the pretty little clay pots, because of the price differential.
All of the gardening done on our place is done on a shoestring budget, complete with the shoestrings — when we feel like splurging. Even the robin’s nest in the cherry tree included a scrap of fabric we used last summer for tying up the tomatoes. We were too cheap for the shoestrings!
Back to the ugly, cheap plastic pots, though. One big advantage to them is that they don’t break after freezing and thawing during the winter, or by a careless yard boy perching them precariously on a box in the garage.
“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20- 21, NASB).
Those vessels of clay are not only humble, but some of them were even made “to dishonor.” I’ve got a plastic pot on the kitchen counter as a vessel to dishonor with scraps of vegetables not fit for human consumption. It will be emptied onto a compost pile, where it will turn into good nutrients for our garden.
These clay containers are also rather fragile. Unlike the plastic pots that can be tossed around quite a bit before breaking, clay vessels are vulnerable to weather, the weight of being stacked, and even an occasional bump against another object.
So what good are clay pots, especially broken ones? What good are we, as “vessels of clay,” to the Lord?
We may be weak, we may be fragile, we may even be broken; but we’re still useful. An ancient collection of scrolls were not found until the sound of the broken jars echoed into the valley where a shepherd boy was tossing stones into the caves above him.
Yet they held a treasure trove of manuscripts that we now know as the Dead Sea Scrolls. After careful analysis of these ancient manuscripts, it was found that our modern day translations of the Bible are amazingly accurate and true to the originals. Our faith is made stronger because of some fragile old jars, in fact the perfect vessels in which to store this treasure.
We are the fragile — and sometimes very broken — clay pots that the Lord can use.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
If it were not for our flawed and fragile human state, the value of the gospel wouldn’t be as obvious.
As a gardener, I have found uses for broken pots. Those without the bottom part are used to contain invasive plants in the garden. Broken pieces provide drainage material in unbroken pots. I’m even saving that pile of smashed pots to make a decorative miniature container garden.
Perhaps the Lord can’t use some of us until we are broken.
God has a use for all of us!