How Can a Little Clay Pot Express His Glory?

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:17,18, NKJV.

Reading this Scripture portion, I want to catch your attention by asking this question about verse 18. Is it we who are looking into the mirror, or is it that God is looking into us—for we are the mirror? As we shall see, this is important. It is unfortunate that the translation in the Authorized version is not really clear. Almost any other version gives you a clearer picture of verse 18. I’d like to read this verse as J.B. Phillips renders it: “All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord.”

“With this hope in our hearts, we are quite frank and open in our ministry. We are not like Moses who veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing his fading glory. But it was their minds which were blinded, for even today when the old agreement is read to them, there is still a veil over their minds, though the veil has actually been lifted by Christ. Yes, alas even to this day there is still a veil over their face, when the writings of Moses are read. Yet if they turn to the Lord, the veil would disappear. For the Lord, to whom they could turn, is the Spirit of the new agreement. But wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, men’s souls are set free. But all of us, who are Christians, have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are trans-figured in ever-increasing splendor into His own image. And the transformation comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:12-18 Phillips

I really appreciate this translation of verse 18. You’ll notice again, please, that it’s not we who are looking into the mirror; it is God who is looking into us—for we are the mirror. We are transfigured in ever-increasing splendor to His own image. When you look in a mirror, you’re not looking for the mirror. You’re looking for the reflection of your own face.

When God made man, and in all of God’s turning to look at man, do you know now what kind of response He’s expecting? A reflection of Himself! When He made man, He said, “Let us make man in our own image” [Gen. 1:26]. In other words, God made man with a faculty which the Bible calls spirit, human spirit, whereby man, the human being, is capable of reflecting God. But then ,this verse takes us a step further than the reflecting and shows us that God is after something really much deeper than that, something much fuller than that. As we reflect His image we are being transformed into that image.

Now as long as I look at a mirror, I can see my image; but I can’t transform the mirror. But we are uniquely designed in the plan of God. As He looks at us, two things happen: firstly, God sees Himself; secondly, we are transformed.

I’ve come to feel that in the Lord’s dealings with man, He always has this in view—that He might see Himself. If this is true, the thing that should concern us is that we might adequately and properly reflect His image, reflect what He is.

Now if you have a mirror at home that doesn’t reflect too well, you’re not going to paint the picture of your face on that mirror so you can see yourself better. Something must happen to the mirror! You’ve got to change the mirror so that it gives a precise reflection of yourself.

Often, something clouds the mirror. There was a veil over Moses’ face.;God put it there. Do you know why? It was because Moses was so beautifully reflecting the glory of God that the Israelites couldn’t stand it! They were too far from the character of God.

The Scriptures tell us that a veil is over the minds of those who don’t know the gospel. What does this mean? It means that they are unable to reflect the character of God. They are unable to reflect His image. The Scriptures also tell us that when a man’s heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away; and you behold the Lord.

But there’s something even more wonderful than our beholding the Lord! It is that, as the Lord looks at us. He beholds Himself. Is this—I repeat—is this our consuming concern?

You know most of us find we are motivated in our Christian life by what we can get from the Lord. We are motivated by the thought of. “Well, what is there in it for me?” And we even minister the gospel to people on this basis. We insist, “If you’ll come to the Lord, you will feel good. Come to the Lord, and you’ll be happy. Come to the Lord, and He’ll heal you. Come to the Lord, and He’ll do this or that.” The whole emphasis is what you can get out of it.

It’s quite surprising to find that in the Lord’s dealings with man, His emphasis is very different. Man can know satisfaction and fullness only as the Lord is satisfied. God deals with man so that there is a precise reflection of Himself, not so the “mirror” can say, “0h, isn’t this wonderful! It makes me feel so good,” but rather that the purpose of God is fulfilled in man!

Now if you don’t have a mirror, you can’t see your face. Isn’t that right? And this brings us to one of the things that the Lord is ultimately after—the increase of Himself. He purposes the embodying of Himself in a vessel here, there, there, there; and thus the Lord is increasing. He’s not simply increasing people; He’s increasing Himself.

When God told Adam to be fruitful, to multiply and replenish the earth;,the thought in view was not simply a lot of people. Rather the primary intention God had was that Adam was filled with God, his wife filled with God, his children filled with God, his grandchildren filled with God—all would be reflecting the image of God. Thus, God would find the increase of Himself in the earth.

Now we’ll digress just a minute to consider an important side issue—what the Lord is after in this! We know the Lord has had an arch-enemy on this earth. Did you ever wonder, Why doesn’t the Lord just make a clean sweep of the whole thing and wipe him out? This is one of the problems that many Christians face. They are puzzled as to why God doesn’t enable them to avoid their difficulties. They ask, “Why does the devil come against me. Why doesn’t the Lord take care of the devil?”

In one aspect we can say, well, through all of this the Lord is sharpening us. But there’s something even deeper than that and much more important. Did you ever stop to think that the Lord will possibly never deal directly with Satan? I’m not throwing this out as dogmatic doctrine, but I want to challenge you a bit! There is a reason why God hasn’t just finished him off. The Lord has purposed to so fill the universe with Himself that the enemy has no more ground. He’s just crowded out, as all his ground is taken from him. God has never had to deal with him directly.

When I think of this, I wonder if this isn’t the picture set forth when Joshua led the children of Israel into the conquest of the Land. God stated specifically, “I will not drive your enemies out! I will be in you, moving them out one by one. If you leave any there, I’m not going to take care of them. They’re going to be thorns in your sides. You move them out! You take their ground from them.”

As you know Israel went so far, and then quit! I’m reminded that many, many years after the conquest of the land, there was still a tribe of Jebusites that held a stronghold in a mountain right in the middle of Canaan’s land. There they were—a threat! A constant challenge. A reproach to the name of Jehovah, God of Israel. For years the Israelites never did a thing about it. They just left them there. Then David came along, and said in his heart, “I can’t stand this reproach. I’m going to take this mountain. I’m going to take the ground of those Jebusites. I’m going to wipe them out.” And he did. And when he did, he built his house right up there in that mountain, which later came to be known as Mt. Zion.

This Hill of Praise is where the ground was taken from the enemy. Now ,God doesn’t do it for you; rather He works in you, and moves through you into that ground. It is quite interesting that as you move in to occupy the ground, you go just so far, then you discover a weakness in yourself, something that is keeping you from taking ground from the enemy. The trouble is that there is ground in you that hasn’t been surrendered to God. The devil, your enemy, is quick to remind you, You can’t have this ground because I have it. And until this ground in you is given over to the Lord, you can’t take that ground! So as you move in, the Lord is accomplishing a two-fold purpose. First of all. He’s getting ground in you, and second, as He gets ground in you, He moves the enemy out!

This principle is all through the Scriptures. Jesus said to the disciples, “Occupy! Take this ground.” Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, “Satan shall be put under your feet, shortly.” Now when God is increasing Himself, He certainly has as one of the ends in view, not only to increase Himself, but to move His enemy off the scene. Here is a thought worth considering: will the Lord ever move directly in this situation, or will He perhaps move exclusively within the Church? Whatever the answer, it is only as we give the ground up to God that the enemy is moved off the ground.

Essentially, this is what happened in the life of the Lord Jesus. Satan kept trying to get ground in Him. He kept moving in to possess something, but he couldn’t touch Him at any point. At the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry, just before the Passion, Jesus said, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me!” Terrific words of victory! And just about the same time He said, “Now is the judgment of this world.” “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out!” Do they not go together? Satan couldn’t get any ground in Jesus. Because God had all the ground in the Lord Jesus, Satan could have none. Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world.” Don’t restrict this to the future. He said, “Right now, at Calvary, is the judgment of this world.” So stand on that ground. Yield all your ground over to God, and the result will be an increase of the Lord in your life. You will find yourself reflecting the glory of God.

Now let us consider how the Lord is daily transforming us! This implies a process. Our walking with the Lord always results in this transforming which means He sees Himself reflected in us more perfectly. We could express this intention in many ways. And if this is the end in view, then all ministry must be directed to this end: a precise reflecting of the glory of God, and a transforming of the vessel of the individual personality so there is more and more of His increase in us.

If this is ministry, then 2 Corinthians 4 explodes with new meaning. Let me again use J.B. Phillips’ translation here: “This is the ministry… which God in His mercy has given us, and nothing can daunt us. We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, no dishonest manipulations of the word of God. We speak the plain truth and so commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. If our gospel is ‘veiled’, the veil must be in the minds of those who are spiritually dying. The spirit of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and prevents the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of God, from shining on them. For it is Christ Jesus as Lord whom we preach, not ourselves. We are your servants for His sake. God, who first ordered light to shine in darkness has flooded our hearts with His light. We now can enlighten men only because we can give them knowledge of the glory of, as we see it in the face of Jesus Christ”(vv. 1-6).

In this chapter there are three principles that are essential in all spiritual ministry: The first is honesty, or openness. The mirror’s finest quality is perfect reflection. Clear! With no flaws! What God is after in our lives, first of all, is a basic honesty, a frankness, an openness. If ministry does not spring out of, and result in, openness, honesty, and frankness, it never can really lead us to the full purpose of God in our reflecting adequately the image of God. Conse-quently, every ministry must be an expression of honesty and openness, so that when God turns the mirror in any direction, the only reflection is God in the man. The Lord moves me to Argentina, or moves me to Africa; but the primary thing He is interested in is that wherever He puts me, the reflection is Himself in me.

Now any veneer—any front that I put up will hinder that reflection of the image of God. Professionalism will hinder it. Anything that I add to the reflection of God will hinder that reflection of God. Ministry must involve no clever tricks. As Paul says, “no hocus-pocus.” There must be no dishonest manipulation of the Word of God. Paul could say, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” He never would say, “I am what I am by the training of Gamaliel.” Or, “I am what I am because I have prestige.” Paul summed up all that which he was by natural heritage and said. “I count the whole thing a heap of garbage. I’m just plain Paul, by the grace of God” [Phil 3:8].

You couldn’t see anything in Paul’s life that wasn’t either the recipient of, or the expression of, the grace of God. We’ve painted him up, added robes, made him wonderful and well-trained; but you never can bring Paul to the confession of anything other than the grace of God. He’s just frank and open.

I’m convinced more and more that one of the surest signs that God is working in us is that He is pressing us to be completely honest! All the profes-sionalism has to go. Sometimes when we pray we’re not quite honest. We pray with the intent that another will be impressed and recognize that we really know how to pray. We display our activities that So and So will receive some impression which we inwardly know is not quite true. We want him to get the best picture—to see the good side of us. So we’ve got a good side and a bad side. The only one who sees the bad side is our wife or husband, and sometimes the children! We surely wouldn’t want anybody else in the church to see that dark side.

You know what happens when God breaks us down to complete honesty? First of all, it is a terribly embarrassing thing when others begin to find out that we are not really what we have pretended to be.

When the Lord begins to do this deep unveiling in one, and then another, and finally several together, it often seems to be the breakdown of everything. But, eventually, you come to realize that it is the beginning of everything. You can’t go forward with God until there is this frankness, this openness, transparency and honesty. So God must break you down until you are willing to be utterly exposed.

The Lord wants to get me exposed until I am willing that you know exactly how I act on the job, how I act behind the closed walls of my home, how I act under pressure with my children—because, it is the same way I act in the church. Finally I realize I am to get off “my little stage” and quit acting. Every hour of every day in every place there must be a transparent seeing of “me.”

You know, if this should really happen in the churches in this land today, most of them would fall to pieces. What a shock we would get—and what a shock we would be to others around us. For example, here is someone whom the church considers to be the most agreeable person around. Outsiders do not know what goes on at home, but his children do and his wife does. Many seem to question why his wife and children do not draw closer to the Lord. Why do they seem so cool and unresponsive to spiritual things? The reason is quite obvious when you get beyond the outer veneer. They have seen through the sham—the unreality. Wife and children are unmoved because father has not been inwardly moved—to live in real honesty. So God must devote His time to stripping away all our pious superficiality. He must get us down where we’re just plain Joe —without any glossy varnish; just plain Mary—without any bright, artificial makeup.

Perhaps you have been impressed by your winsome preacher—his effectiveness in the meeting, but wonder at his complete failure as a husband or father. You see him as seemingly responsible in the pulpit, but everybody knows he doesn’t handle responsibility well at home or on the job. Or—maybe nobody knows about these failures, yet inwardly he does; and he secretly despises this sham and hypocrisy. For all of this God has just one answer: complete exposure!

This complete honesty—so imperative in spiritual ministry—is not something you have on Sunday. It’s not something you have just in the prayer closet. It is not something outward, for God requires “truth in the inward parts.” Once you begin to walk in complete honesty, you find out what a necessary and beautiful thing it really is. And what a relief not to have robes to wear around all day! The farce is gone; you are living an open life—transparent before others all the day long. No longer are you afraid to be unveiled—for now you have nothing to hide or cover.

Again and again in the meetings in Santa Fe, Argentina we’ve prayed: “Lord, take away all pretension; just let us be unpretentious.” Often it takes a pretty long while to work all that pattern of deception, strategy, maneuvering and artificiality out of us. But the Lord is working Why? So He can see Himself!

And now let us consider the second essential in spiritual ministry. Verse seven speaks of this priceless Treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthen jar. What a shock to our ego. We are just a common clay pot, not even a pretty earthenware jar. Surely not an antique! But look at what we have in this clay pot—a priceless Treasure: the Lord Jesus, Himself.

Oh, this is something! Think! We have Him—this priceless Treasure in a common earthenware jar. And the reason becomes so clear: we are to show that the splendid power within (the jar) belongs to God; it is not of us.

Paul explains: “We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated” [v.8]. Yes, if there is anything that frustrates people, it is handicaps. Listen—as the talk often goes something like this: Well, you know Sister So and So. She’s just wonderful; but me, I’ve got three children. What can I do? I’m so handicapped. They just drag me—wear me to a frazzle! It’s more than I can handle. And so the handicaps seem to eclipse all else—and the little clay pot forgets about the Treasure within.

Again, it is so natural for another to reason: Sure, after all Brother So and So hasn’t anything to do but preach, sleep and eat. But poor me! I’ve got to work ten hours a day. I have reason to be downcast and frustrated. If I could just move into some different circumstances—like his—I’d be spiritual too.

But now listen to Paul’s words: “We are troubled on all sides…” He was encompassed in pressure, difficulty, persecution and misunderstanding. But don’t stop! Paul also adds, “We’re never frustrated.” What was his secret? Simply this! Paul had come to realize that you can’t expect anything more from a clay pot than handicaps—so quit stewing—quit worrying!

“But if I just had a pretty pot to put that Treasure in,” another has confided. “If I could just put it out in a nice vase like her—or him. Now that sister over there … she has charm, a magnetic personality that draws. That brother over there has polish, training, influence, contacts. But me, plain Joe—what can I do? How can I ever serve God? You see, my very commonness haunts me. This is why I’m frustrated and about to faint.”

Now, Paul surely knew he was nothing more than a clay pot, so he testifies for all generations to come: “I don’t expect anything more than handicaps, so this doesn’t overwhelm me. I’m not frustrated. I can never expect to be any different than a clay pot, but I’ve discovered that the only thing of any value is not the clay pot; it is the Treasure within. That Treasure is lovely—beautiful—worthwhile.”

You see, if you are only occupied with the clay pot, you’re always going to be under a cloud. If you only gaze at your handicaps you will always live in the shadows of gloom and despair. This doesn’t mean that you deny you have any. You admit you have them, but manifest to others that you are not overwhelmed because your preoccupation is with the Treasure within.

Paul continues: “We’re puzzled, but never in despair”[v.8] Have you ever been utterly puzzled? You groaned. Oh, if there weren’t so many things impos-sible to understand. I could surely walk with God.

And others around you are filled with the same bewilderment. One testifies: “I was walking along all right with the Lord, and bang! It happened! I could only cry out, “Where is God? What’s going on?”

One of the interesting things about the Christian life is this constant pathway of paradoxes and seeming contradictions. First there is clear revelation of the Lord, and then there follows shadows and darkness. The Lord is so clear on one point, and (seemingly) so vague on another.

A few years back I thought that the epitome of the Christian life, the highest peak that you could reach, was to have all your puzzles solved. I assumed that the flooding in of His light would mean answer for every situation. I would never need to say again. “I don’t know.” But I have never in all my life been forced to admit, I don’t know, so often as in the last few months since the Lord has been so very real and precious. Things may change down the road, and I’ll see much more clearly. But I’m at rest. In this pathway I don’t get all my puzzles solved, but that no longer throws me into despair.

Perhaps you have, at times, sighed, “How-dear Lord- can You ever do anything in me? My clay is so set, so unmoldable, so brittle and unresponsive.” Well, remember that is the Lord’s choice and His business. When the Lord began to deal with me, He knew what He was getting-just a clay pot.

My problem was that I thought He was getting something much better. I thought He was getting a polished fellow—you know, one who knew music, knew people, could speak well and influence others; well, that’s what I thought. Yet, all these years the Lord has been concentrating on one thing: breaking me down to help me realize He didn’t get anything but a clay pot. He’s never been deceived; I’ve been deceived. Now the truth comes out; things are crystal clear, and there’s no anxiety connected with my future.

But let us go on as Paul continues: “We’re persecuted, but we never have to stand alone.” It is the loneliness that makes a person feel dark when his friends and family turn against him. You feel that people just don’t understand how much you’re trying to walk with God. If they did they wouldn’t persecute or seek to destroy you. Yet, once again, this only helps you realize that you’re not standing alone—He is standing in you.

When I first went to Argentina, I suffered several knock-downs. I argued, “Well, what’s the use! Might as well throw in the towel; just as well quit.” But something in me whispered, “You can quit.” I read Paul’s words: “We may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out.” But so far as you’re concerned—you have been knocked out —knocked way out of the ring. You have completely exhausted all strength; there is no fight left. Yes, in spite of all that has been written—and all you’ve known and stood for, this is the hour. You’re down—down for good. Brother, Sister, until you get to this place in your ministry, you can’t really serve God. You’ll never see anything last because it has always been your own energy, your own strength and promotion—but really nothing of Him.

And then something so very strange seems to happen. You can’t explain it, but somehow you seem to be rising up. The Lord is raising you up out of death. Suddenly, all things become new; a whole new world dawns around you! Once you wanted God to come over and walk with you. Now you’ve discovered you are walking, but He is walking in you.

So every day the little clay pot is experiencing something of death working through its being, but that is simply to allow the power of His life to be released. Paul insists: “We who are living are always—(daily)—being exposed to death for Jesus’ sake!” [2 Cor. 4:11]. Oh, that is so hard to take. We want a once-for-all blow of death, but not a thousand deaths—every day along the way. We are always wanting to get around where there is some joy, some peace and blessing.

How often we have announced: “Oh, if I could just get over there! If I could just go to that Bible conference; if I could just get into that Bible school. Surely, I’d have victory over there! Then I’d be able to experience the joy, the glory and the victory of walking with God unhindered.”

God insists. You must stay put in that kitchen. You just keep changing those diapers. You keep on driving that old car. You stay right there in that shop.

“But Lord! I just die a thousand deaths” And He answers that it is all a necessary part of your training. There are no shortcuts; it is a continuous exposure to death. It is only out of such circumstances that you really discover what HIS LIFE really is. This is His way—the way He has chosen to work in you. If everything were sweet and wonderful all the time, you’d never know what overcoming is. Even as the Lord Jesus overcame—so you must overcome. It is the only means by which you can know more and more of His life flowing through you.

Beloved, I want to alert you to something: whenever you see a channel that God is using to bring life to others, you mark it down, that channel is experiencing death after death! Death works in you—but life in others [2 Cor. 4:11].

Now apply this to yourself! You’ve been wanting your sons, your daughters, your friends, your relatives and your contacts to know this life. Yet, continually you’ve been dodging this way of helping them into Life. You’ve been dodging these difficult things everytime they confronted you. The pattern is almost set—your dodging, escaping, running. And you wonder why they aren’t touched. The Lord is not getting to you. If the Lord ever really gets to you. He’ll get to them—through you.

We have thus far considered how the first essential was a frankness, an openness, an honesty. Secondly, we have seen how the working of death means humiliation and breaking. Thirdly, we come to see how to experience the supply of grace.

You know, this thought came to me the other day. Where does God give the grace? I suddenly realized that grace is not for the Treasure within. The supply of grace is for the clay pot. The Treasure doesn’t need the grace. It’s you—the little clay pot—you need that supply of grace. And the more grace God can give, the more thanksgiving rebounds to Him.

This is why Paul tells the Corinthians: “I want you to see what a benefit this is bringing to you, while I’m getting more grace too. But also more thanksgiving is rising to the Lord as I’m drawing more upon His life. Oh, it is so wonderful! These trials don’t seem to bother me. Sure! I’m having a terrible time, but I’m getting to experience more grace all the time.”

You know the Lord has said, “As thy day demands, so shall thy strength ever be.” The interesting thing is that beforehand, He doesn’t tell you, “Now, watch out because tomorrow at this time you’re going to get some terrible news. But that’s all right—don’t be alarmed; I’m going to give you sufficient grace.” He never tells you that; The news comes as a surprise. It shocks you down to your feet. And as you are about to collapse you sense the Lord’s presence and undergirding. A full flow of His grace begins to move in.

You see, you’d never have known, never have experienced His grace if everything were smooth. Learn to stand still; don’t run or turn aside out of His way. The Lord is simply dealing with you, training you, repairing you, bringing out the reflection of Himself through your little clay pot.

Have you said it to yourself? Oh, if I could just can up enough grace to last me through this whole week. If I had just enough to make sure I could make it to the end of this trying week! Well, you see, you couldn’t handle that any more than you could handle the food for seven days at one meal. I’ve often thought of of a fellow coming in and telling his wife. “Honey, fix me enough food for seven days. I haven’t got time to eat the rest of this week.” Oh—you say—that’s ridiculous, but it’s just as ridiculous to come to the meeting of the saints on Sunday and say, “I’ve sure got to get a touch from God; I’ve got to get enough to last me a whole week. I just haven’t enough time to seek God each day. I haven’t time to draw upon His supply through the hours ahead—I must store it up.” Foolishness! How ridiculous! His supply of grace flows just moment by moment. The supply is always at the reservoir—not in you. This grace-which is His presence—can only be experienced moment by moment as each situation arises. That keeps you wholly dependent upon Him.

If you could can it up for a week. pretty soon you’d want to can it up for a month. If you could can it for a month, then you’d want a reserve supply for a year ahead; and pretty soon you’d be wholly on your own. What need would you have of God?

Well, the Lord isn’t going to give enough for a year ahead. You’ll never get God in one big experience. You’ll never get God in ten easy lessons. He’ll come to be your resource day by day and moment by moment. As He works into your life through trials, He dispenses Himself as grace. It is no wonder these lovely verses by Annie Johnson Flint have become a favorite melody of so many:

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.

To added affliction He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ‘ere the day is half done:

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father’s full giving, Is only begun.

The testimony of every servant of God echos the same message. With every divine charge God gives sufficient grace for carrying out what He has committed. You remember in the wilderness journey how God gave Moses a great responsibility, but He also gave a commensurate measure of grace for it. In due time when that responsibility was divided among seventy men, Moses didn’t need all that measure of grace, so the Scriptures explain that God took of the Spirit that was upon Moses and distributed that measure on the seventy who were to rule. How clearly you see God’s transferring that grace to wherever the responsibility is. Let this be your inner confidence: when God sets a task for you to accomplish, He so works that, though you may go through insurmountable obstacles and trials. He will always be there to measure out sufficient grace. But we had better be sure we have accepted the task from Him, not given birth to some fanciful project of our own.

There is a reason Paul reminds us, “we are never to collapse.” Many a better man than Paul has collapsed under lesser trials. Many have come home from the mission field to go to the mental institution. The other day I read where a Christian psychiatrist said, “One out of eight North Americans spend some time of their life in a mental institution.” One out of eight; evidently plenty of these are Christians. Why are they collapsing? The Treasure can’t collapse. That old clay pot has collapsed. Why? They have not drawn from the resources of His grace.

The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear. But every day the inner man receives fresh strength. If you’ll quit hoping for anything better for the outward man, you’ll be a lot more settled. As the inner man gets stronger and stronger he supports this outer man. This is where a “divine seeing” is so imperative. If we have “seen” this available reservoir of His Life within our little clay pot, we have a hope which springs eternal.

Shall we pray. We thank You for allowing us to see ourselves as we should see. Father, we do come to a new measure of rest in recognizing this little clay pot is merely to allow Your glorious Treasure to be expressed. Help us never again to be so occupied with the little pot when the Treasure alone is worthy of our attention. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!


This is one of four chapters in the book, Designed to Express His Life. For ordering information, please contact Grace Fellowship International:

Orville Swindoll and his wife Erma Jean, following a brief term in Mexico as missionaries in 1957, went to Argentina in 1959 with two pre-school daughters. A third daughter was born to them in Argentina in 1961, and then a son was born in the USA during a visit in 1964. They continued to serve the Lord in Argentina until April, 1991, when they moved to Miami, Florida as a strategic base to serve Latin American Christian groups in various countries in both Central and South America. (He is the older brother of radio teacher, Chuck Swindoll.) Thanks to brother Swindoll and Sure Foundation for permission to reprint this conference transcription book.