by Sheila Hamil
This traditional story of ‘The Broken Water Pot’ is fairly well known by now:
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his 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 master’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 his 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 master’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 his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’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 master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.” (Anon)
To me this story speaks of Jesus being broken for us.
Just like that broken pot, he was willing to be poured out upon a thirsty world, becoming a pure and holy sacrifice on the cross, to rescue us from death, darkness and the slavery of sin, that we might have life, colour and freedom; exactly like the flowers in this story bursting forth from the soil.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. NIV (John 3.16)
But I also want to encourage those of us who sometimes say, “I’m broken, I’m a failure, how can God possibly use me?” to look beyond self-condemnation, and see ourselves as God sees us. . . our true potential, our desire to be of use, our willing hearts and our faithfulness, and to what we could be, if we don’t give way to despair!
If we could but look at ourselves in an imaginary mirror with his eyes, we would see ourselves as we really are.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. NIV (1 John 4.10)
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash
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