The gospel of cracked pots

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Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

So far in my life, I don’t know if I made bigger or more mistakes than most people.

But I made a lot of mistakes.

And I made some big ones. Costly ones. Stupid ones.

A stupid mistake is born when carelessness and costliness hook up.

I made one such stupid mistake the other day. I keep replaying all the little choices I made that led to such a stupid mistake. At what point in that process did I take leave of my senses?

I feel like a man waking up at a crash scene and trying to remember the exact moment when I fell asleep at the wheel.

Have you ever felt that way? Ever made a mistake like that?

What happens inside you as you deal with the aftermath?

For me, the hardest thing about making a stupid mistake is feeling stupid.

That feeling can go on for a long time. Even a lifetime.

I still feel stupid for stupid mistakes I made 30 years ago!

I cringe every time those mistakes come to mind.

So, since I made my most recent stupid mistake just a few days ago, I’m in constant cringe mode today. I feel so stupid.

What happens when we feel this stupid?

I don’t know about you, but I doubt my own worth.

I think: How could someone (me) who could do something so stupid, ever be fit to [fill in the blank: be a dad, be a husband, have a job, hold important responsibilities, etc.]?

I don’t know about you, but when I make a stupid enough mistake, I feel like my life may be over. Let someone who isn’t so stupid breathe my air.

I feel like a broken vessel, a cracked pot.

In these times–in the aftermath of stupid mistakes I made–I am so thankful that my parents (who admit a lot of mistakes of their own) raised me in the Gospel. That is: God raises the dead. God redeems us from stupid mistakes.

Oh, there may be consequences, but the Gospel is that people who make stupid mistakes will come through with their humanity and worth intact.

They will come through with new life and new wisdom for life.

If they believe.

The Bible gives us a picture to help us when we feel so stupid and worthless, when we feel like we will never have anything to offer again.

But we have this treasure [the Gospel] in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us (Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:7).

In context, this verse preaches the good news that God enjoys working with “clay jars”–i.e. human beings who are beat up, cracked, dirty, flawed, and marked by life. The goodness and wholeness of life are a matter of faith and hope in the love of God, not our ability to be perfect at life.

Likewise, our capacity for sharing a life of love with others also comes out of our faith and hope in the love of God, not our ability to be perfect at love.

So the Bible says that people who make stupid mistakes (and bear the imperfections of those mistakes) are indeed perfect vessels through which the life and love of God flow to the world.

When I make a stupid mistake, I may have to pay the price for it. Indeed, if my stupid mistake harms other people, I should pay whatever price it takes to make them whole (or as close to whole as can be). This is my first act of love as I deal with the aftermath of my mistake.

But if I believe the Gospel–that God is happy to raise the dead and it is God’s will to raise the dead–then I must never let myself think that I can make a mistake so stupid that God will ever be done with me.

So I should never be done with me either.

But we have this treasure [the Gospel] in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us (Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:7).

Grace and peace.

 
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