God uses ‘cracked pots,’ in spite of their flaws

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

A parable can teach a life lesson through a memorable story. I once heard a parable about a water bearer in China. The woman carried a long pole with two large water pots hanging on either end of the pole.

One of the pots was perfect, and the other was cracked. The perfect pot always stayed full, except occasionally sloshing over the brim as the woman walked the long, dirt road from the stream to her house. But, by the time she sat the pair of pots down, half the liquid had leaked from the cracked pot.

This routine occurred every day for two years. The perfect pot proudly performed the task for which it was made. The cracked pot, ashamed of its imperfection, felt like a failure for accom-plishing half of what it was made to do.

One day at the stream, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer, “Because of my flaw, water leaks out all the way back to your house.” The woman replied, “Did you notice that there are 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, so I planted seeds on your side of the path.

“Every day while we walk back, you have watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be a bouquet to adorn the house.”

What’s the lesson of this parable? We are all cracked pots, with our own unique flaws.  But, in spite of our shortcomings and failures, God can still use our lives according to His plans.

The story reminds me of the words of Isaiah who wrote, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8).  Just like a potter shapes the clay into a pot, God can shape our lives into vessels useful for His work

When Jesus walked the earth, He chose common people like fishermen to be His disciples, not the religious elite. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NIV).

Through the years, I’ve met people who know firsthand the love and forgiveness of Christ that delivers them from a life of addiction. It’s amazing to see how God uses their lives to reach out and minister to others needing deliverance from the same sin. Many of us struggle with anxiety, fear, and other flaws too many to list.

Missionary Hudson Taylor has said, “All of God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on his being with them.” According to the Apostle Paul, God’s grace is sufficient for us because His strength works best in our weakness.


Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.