For better or for worse, last week was my first experience teaching at the Discipleship Training School that we run at the YWAM base. The school starts with a lecture phase, and ends with an international field assignment. Each week during the lecture phase a different teacher is featured, talking about a different topic. The poor students were trapped with me for 15 hours last week, since I was the “featured guest.”
When Judy, the DTS director, asked me if I could talk to the students about “Character” I nervously agreed. I feel like I’m not the most equipped to talk about this topic. In the nearly two years since we’ve moved to El Salvador I have found myself snapping under the pressure. Being rude to my husband, annoyed by the culture, or losing my temper with my kids. The whole cultural adaption, new language thing has not always brought out the best in me to say the least. I’ve learned way more about myself than I ever wanted to. There’s just something very enlightening about being in a grocery store check-out line with two screaming kids, while not being about to understand or be understood by the store clerk.
So, I shared some of my own stories, and struggles…let’s be honest, I could have spent 15 hours on that topic alone. But I figured I had better talk about something else, so I discussed what God’s character is like, and then we jumped into the idea of building character through suffering. The thing about real life is that the toughest times are when are character is formed. The Bible talks about that…a lot…as in nearly every verse that mentions character also mentions suffering. Good news for all of us who want to grow in our character.
We also discussed character in our daily lives, and then I talked about our weaknesses. Because God promises that when we are weak, He is strong. When I am struggling through my own flaws and mistakes I find myself looking to Him more and more. And He comes through! And He uses me! And I get to experience His power in my life. Amazing! It’s so upside down and backwards, but I’ve seen it in my life over and over again.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
A jar of clay was an ordinary everyday object back when Paul was alive. Just like we are ordinary everyday people. But God can work through an ordinary, everyday person when we trust that He is the source of any strength… not our own talents, or knowledge, or abilities. Because on our own, we are just jars of clay.
I have an actual jar of clay in my house. Strange, I know. I got it when we visited a town outside of San Salvador where the artisans specialized in making these pots. In El Salvador, they are just ordinary objects that someone might use to cook beans. But I wanted one in my house to remind me that I am just like that jar of clay. Painfully ordinary, but with the power of God inside.