“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” (2nd Corinthians 4:8-10)
This is dedicated to all the believing soldiers, to all those who have returned from being in the midst and forefront of the Gaza War.
Once upon a time, there was a wise and kind king, who ruled over a mighty kingdom. So vast and beautiful was his land that it attracted many from near and far who wanted to see it. The land and even the castle had a very unique attraction – vesselsdesigned and made by the king himself. He loved to design each and every vessel, giving much thought into making them similar, yet different from one another.
One such vessel was very special to the king. He spent considerable time shaping it and adorning it with the most beautiful colorsand precious gems, with intention of placing it outside of his palace, so that all would be able to see.
As he worked, the vessel came to take on form. The kind king gently polished it and carefully put the gems in place. As he worked,he spoke to the vessel, relating to stories of old, telling it of vessels young and old, big and small, of all shapes and sizes, some whom he used for years and years and some for a short time, them having fulfilled their purpose in that time. All those vessels were now set aside, waiting happily for the right time to all be used again. But, this vessel was unique, indeed, and received breath and the gift of life. It asked the king: “Why are some vessels larger than others and why are some more beautiful than others?” The wise and gentle kind replied: “I choose to make them as I please, in a way and for the purpose that i know they will be able to serve me best”. “But, asked the young vessel, “My king, how did they serve you?” The king answered, “Each vessel, though different fromthe others, contained something precious, without which they could not serve me”. Instinctively, the new vessel ask: “Do I have that precious thing, my king?” “Oh, yes, you do”, the king replied. “And one day, you shall show everyone what it is.”
The vessel pondered the words of the king, each day growing its desire to serve him as best as it could. And then one day, the vessel understood what the king told him. “Oh, my king, you know how I love you and truly want to serve you. But, that precious thingcannot come out, because it is sealed within me. How will it ever come out?” cried the vessel. “My dear, dear vessel”. said the king. “Unless you break, it will not come out, but remain sealed. When that happens, you need not fear. I will be there with you. You will not be alone”. “Must I break to let it out? I cannot, I will not. My Lord, the king, has put so much love and effort into me. All the people look at my design and see what that king has done. If I break, what shall become of me? Who will see the king‘s wonderful handy-work?” No, my Lord, I shall serve you this way. I need not break, for by seeing the kings’ work, many will give you praise.” The king remained silent, but was sad at the vessel’s honest reply, but her lack of understanding.
Days past and then months. Indeed, as the vessel thought, many admired how special it was and it was placed at the king’s garden for all to see. Every day, the king would speak with it and tell it stories of vessels of old.
Winter came along and with it, strong winds. The vessel was exposed to the winds, that blew against it, making every effort to push it and try to make it fall. Cracks and scratches appeared and the vessel began to be saddened at what was happening to it. Though the king tended to all of his masterpieces, this vessel began to feel that the king had placed it in harms way. “Why do I have to have these scratches and these cracks that hurt? I could have been placed in the king’s palace, away from the wind and forces of nature”, complained the vessel. The wise king knew what the vessel was thinking, and while applying new color and gems, he quietly encouraged the vessel: “I have placed you there for a reason. You may not know why right now, but you know that I love you and I’m asking you to trust me. Just trust Me”. And the vessel did.
Then, one winter’s night, the strongest storm blazed through the king’s land, overturning many vessels and shattering them, leaving pieces hardly recognizable as once having been part of beautiful vessels. All they looked like now, were pieces of clay. So it wasalso with the young vessel. She looked at pieces of herself, scattered across the king’s garden, and began to weep aloud. The king and his servants all surrounded the vessel, trying to comfort her. But, the vessel was too concerned about her own condition to think about anything else. “I knew it was dangerous. I told the king. Now look at me. What is to become of me? How will I ever be of use anymore? And where was the king when I fell apart?” cried the vessel. The king listened and he cried with her. As he picked up the pieces, he tenderly said “I was here all along. I stood in the storm, protecting you from the falling trees and from the rain that could not only hurt you, but crush you and destroy you. I was here and I saw you break.” The king continued cleaning and fixing the vessel and asked, “My young vessel, do you remember all I have told you about the vessels of old?” Trying to remember, the vessel answered in a voice that was as cracked as its frame, “The vessels of old had to break in order to serve you. But how can I serve you like this? What good can come out of this?” The vessel began to sink into sorrow for herself. “Oh vessel!”, exclaimed the king. “Can you not smell that? Can you not see what is going on now? Look around you!”
The vessel, though broken, managed to pay attention and began to notice a most wonderful fragrance flowing from within her. “The precious thing! That‘s it!” she cried out. “Yes, my vessel”, answered the king. Unless you were broken, the fragrance that was in youcould not come out. Now, the whole garden and land are filled with this precious savor, flowing from you and from your fellow vessels. Look at the flowers and plants, how they turn to this sweet-smelling savour that is flowing their way. You served me and will continue to serve, vessel. All of you are made of clay, yet each of you is a clay for glory, all of you containing a precious treasure within you. It is not always easy. You broke in the storm and there are still more storms ahead. But, as I promised, I am here with you”, replied the king. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are mine!” The vessel took her eyes off the king now, looked at herself and saw she was whole again. The king had fixed her, making her more beautiful than before. The signs of her broken clay were hardly visible, and she was adorned with new gems. Only those who were very close to her knew what she had been through and how her perspective and her life had changed as a result. “I see now, my king. I am willing to serve you as fully and as completely as I can, for you made me and care for me”, came the loving response from the vessel, who saw the king also repair other vessels across the land. “Will you allow my fragrance to flow from you for My glory, vessel?”, gently and lovingly asked the king. “Yes, my Lord the king. I am yours to use and to do with as you please”, replied the vessel. And the king held His vessel close to His heart.
© Hannah Kramer