"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body."
2 Corinthians 4: 7-11, NIV
Been claying lately? Yes, I realize claying is not a word. All English teachers, by rite of their passage through boatloads of literature, communicated in all sorts of dialects, generally believe they have the right to create new words. They realize that authors of all sorts do. So, as a former English instructor steeped in this brave tradition, I introduce the verb "claying". By way of definition, here we go--Claying: v; the process of allowing one's self to lead one's perception and guide overall thinking. To be led by the whims of one's human nature instead of the truth of God's sovereignty and love. Again, how's the claying been going?
Perhaps some examples would prove helpful. I lost a dear friend last Spring. Claying leads me to feel sorry for myself and angry about the unnecessary surgery that clearly contributed to her death. When I experience a crazy-busy week, claying tells me I must be in the wrong place or not equipped for what I am doing. Claying leads me to feel fearful, overwhelmed, upset. Claying causes me to compare myself to others, to worry about the future, to strive for control.
Paul gets claying, and he writes about it here, there, and all around the Pauline epistles. Claying is trusting our flesh instead of trusting Jesus Christ. The tension of the two, flesh v/s Spirit, is one that Paul felt keenly. So do I. At this point in my life, I ask myself simply--am I claying here?
Dried clay is rigid and fixed; God's way of doing things is not. Clay jars are molded and defined by another; God is not. Clay items are finite and breakable; God is not. Claying is processing through my own self-limited perception; God's view of things reflects His incomprehensible sovereignty. His ways are not my ways, nor are His thoughts my thoughts (Isaiah 55 : 8-9). In a simple phrase, God is not clay.
It's time for me to break the claying habit. We inevitably face pressures and trials, but Christians have the steely power of the Holy Spirit to carry them through times of trouble. As Paul notes, the inspiration of the life of Christ coupled with His presence in us makes all the difference.