We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies. We who are alive are always being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies that are dying. So death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
So we arena depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:5-12, 16-18, Common English Bible).
Since my dad’s death on Friday the image above, Paul’s “…we have this treasure in clay pots…” has been going through my brain. Part of the time I have been thinking about all the things Dad did and enjoyed. I have thought of the people that were important to him. I have thought of the bridges he built (literal bridges, he was a retired Texas Department of Transportation inspector). I have thought of the lives he impacted.
Part of the time I have been thinking more theological. I have thought about that verse in relationship to the words from the traditional burial service, “…earth to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust…” I have thought about it in relationship to Ash Wednesday and the words we say during the imposition of ashes, “Remember you are dust and to dust you must return.”
Yesterday I was the pastor for Dad’s burial service (I will not be preaching the Memorial Service today). I talked about all these things. I also talked about that last sentence of the passage above. “The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.”
As I think back on my Dad’s life I remember the impact he made on many boys through the Boy Scouts. I know all the people he built things for (he was a very good finish carpenter) and how they will remember him. Some of the ways we will remember dad are through the things we can see. Every Sunday morning when I stand to preach I am at least at some point behind a lectern he built specifically to hold both my Bible and my iPad. There is a physical reminder there for me of my father. As good as that is, it will never touch my memories on the way he impacted so many people.
When I looked inside the casket yesterday and saw his body for the last time, it reminded me of him but I also distinctly know, he isn’t there! All I am looking at is the outward shell. I can see my dad’s used clay pot. That clay pot is some 85 years old. It is broken down. It is worn out, and from this day forward, it is something I can’t see. But that’s OK because what is far more important is the soul I can’t see, at least for now. It is a soul I can’t see because today it rests eternally in the hands of God.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved