Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Vase

When my wife and I were married, we were given an exorbitant amount of generous gifts from our family and friends.  We received a whopping 29” television that was about as thick as it was tall…and wide.  Gifted with the TV was our very own VCR.  In the year 2000, people would go to a store and pay money to rent a movie on “video tape.”  These video cassettes were often abused, seldom rewound and at times would be damaged beyond the ability to watch.  Just a few years after our marriage, DVD’s entered the picture, which, could also be rented.  These discs were often abused, never rewound and more often than their predecessors, damaged beyond the ability to watch.  Additionally we also received two Coleman camping chairs, which despite appearing to have endured WWII, are still our favorite and most comfortable camping chairs that we own.  Other wedding gifts included wall hangings, bowls, plates, flatware, kitchen appliances and a number of silver and crystal pieces.  We still have most of these items displayed or stored somewhere within the confines of our humble home. 

One such piece is a crystal vase that we have owned since day one.  It is a large vase, capable of embracing 2 or 3 bouquets of store bought flowers at one time.  It may go without saying…but the sheer size of the vase has led to the rarity of its usage.  In fact, I cannot remember a time when this vase was used in our first 10 years of marriage.  This was mostly due to the fact that I could not afford to fill the vase for the wife of my youth…or perhaps more accurately, I was too cheap to purchase enough flowers to fill it.  I do recall that at the end of our first year of marriage, attempting to “fill” the vase with one single red rose that I had purchased and given to Sarah for our anniversary. 

The rose was lost among the wide mouth of the large vase.  I tried to cut it down. I tried to raise it up.  I tried adding some grass that I pulled up by the roots from next to the house.  I even tried cutting some branches from the back yard elm to add some sustenance to the display.  All of my efforts were pointless.  I finally resorted to taking the single red rose out of the vase and placing it in a small blue plastic cup.  It was a trick that I had learned as a child.  Every Mother’s day, I would go out and pick all of the dandelions from the yard and cram them into a small colored Tupperware cup…the most basic vessel for floral arrangements.  I would then proudly give the treasure to my mother early in the morning along with a cold piece of toast and some soggy cereal.  I would have probably been willing to do the same thing for my dad too…but dandelions are not in season as much in mid June. So for this first anniversary, my wife received one red rose in a blue plastic cup from Wal-Mart.

It has taken me 46 years of living, but I think that I am finally beginning to understand what Paul is referring to in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.  Here Paul describes a great treasure that has been placed in the most basic and fragile vessels…us.  He refers to us as being “jars of clay.” Plain old earthen vessels that are easily cracked and broken.  Yet, this is the very place that Jesus has placed the treasure of all treasures…HIS GOSPEL!

May we come to see that Jesus says that He will put that great treasure into us…mere clay pots…broken and battered…if we will merely receive the gift. It is not the vessel that makes the treasure great…it is the treasure that makes the vessel great!

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