A man was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up. Left on the sand by the receding tide the starfish were certain to die as the sun dried them out. The man also saw a boy picking up starfish and flinging them back into the sea. Planning to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense, the man walked up to the boy and said, “I have been watching what you are doing, son. You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day? Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time. Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?” The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said, “It makes a difference to that one.”
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the masters house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his masters house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.” The pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the masters house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Fathers table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength
This poem was written by an old woman living in a nursing home in Ireland. It was found among her things when she died.
What do you see nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you look at me?
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice- “I do wish you’d try.”
And forever is losing a sock or a shoe.
Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you think, is that what you see?
Open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
As I use at your bidding, and eat at your will,
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who loved one another,
A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at 20, my heart give a leap.
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At 25 now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A women of 30, my young now grow so fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At 50 once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead.
I look at the future and shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known,
I’m and old women now and nature is cruel,
Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells,
I remember the joys and I remember the pain,
And I’m living and loving life over again,
I think of the years all too few- gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
Open your eyes, nurse open and see.
Not an empty old women, look closer- see ME.
A newly appointed pastor who went to visit the home of a congregation member. Upon arriving there the minister discovered his host was an avid gardener, and was only too delighted to show his pastor around the garden, a magnificent sea of greens, purples, blues, whites, yellows and pinks. Wanting to set the relationship off on a strong, positive note, the pastor said, “Praise God for the beauty of his handiwork”.
But his host replied in a somewhat offended tone, “Now pastor, don’t go giving all the credit to God. You should have seen this garden when the Almighty had it to himself!”
The gardener in fact had very good theology. God has designed the world in such a way that God works in partnership with us, and we with God, to achieve God’s ends.
Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini is thought by many to have been history’s greatest exponent of his art. As he swept through Europe in the early 1800’s his fame was something like that of Beatlemania! His skills were so great that it was whispered he gained his ability from a pact with the devil.
It is said that one evening Paganini was performing before a packed house. As he embarked on the final piece one of the strings on his violin snapped. Undeterred Paganini kept playing. A few moments later, a second string snapped. Again Paganini kept going, now reduced to playing a classical masterpiece on just two strings. And then the unbelievable – a third string snapped. Yet Paganini kept going, finishing the piece on just one string. So brilliant was his performance that the crowd rose to their feet to give him a standing ovation.
Yet Paginini was not finished. There was the encore to come. Raising his violin above his head Paginini called to the audience “Paganini, and one string!” With that the orchestra struck up and Paginini completed his encore on just one string.
Application: Paginini was playing a magnificent but eventually flawed violin that night. Yet even with three strings broken the master musician was able to extract beautiful music from it. You and I are like flawed instruments in the hand of God, yet no matter how flawed and broken, God is still able to weave beautiful, graceful things through us when we give ourselves to serving him and others.
Source: Information from Paginini website and “Sermon Notes”
A mother, wishing to encourage her young son’s progress at the piano bought tickets for a performance by Ignace Paderewski, the famous Polish concert pianist. When the night arrived they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on stage.
Soon the mother found a friend to talk to and the boy slipped away. When eight o’clock arrived, the spotlights came on, the audience quieted, and only then did they notice the boy up on the piano stool, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
His mother gasped, but before she could retrieve her son, the master appeared on stage and quickly moved to the piano.
“Don’t quit – keep playing” he whispered to the boy. Leaning over, Paderweski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obligato. Together the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerised.
In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the Master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear, time and again, “Don’t quit – keep playing”. And as we do he augments and supplements until a work of amazing beauty is created.
Source: Leadership Magazine, Spring 1983
Will Campbell was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist and award winning author, based in Mississippi in the 1960’s and 70’s. Campbell’s prophetic ministry earned him death threats and opposition as well as helping others gain insight into what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.
As a Baptist Will was familiar with the practise of the altar call, where people are invited to indicate a response to Christ by walking to the front of the church and being prayed for. Yet in a sermon Campbell once turned the idea of the altar call on it’s head. “I hope that someday there will be an evangelistic service in which, when the preacher gives the invitation and people start coming down the aisle, he yells back at them, ‘Don’t come down the aisle! Go to Jesus! Don’t come to me! Go to Jesus!'” said Campbell.
“Upon that declaration, the people who were coming down the aisle turn around and exit the auditorium and get in their cars and drive away. He then yells at the rest of the congregation, ‘Why are you hanging around here? Why don’t you go to Jesus too? Why don’t you all go to Jesus?’ The people rise en masse and quickly leave the church, and soon the parking lot is empty.”
“What I imagine is that about a half hour later the telephone at the police station starts ringing off the hook, and the voice at the other end says, ‘We’re down here at the old-folks’ home and there’s some crazy people at the door yelling that they want to come in and visit Jesus, and I keep telling them Jesus isn’t in here! All we have in here is a bunch of old ladies who are half dead. But they keep saying, “But we want to visit Jesus! We want to visit Jesus!”‘
“The next call is from the warden down at the prison. He’s saying, ‘Send some cops down here! There’s a bunch of nuts at the gate and they’re yelling and screaming, “Let us in there! We want to visit Jesus! We want to visit Jesus!” I keep telling them that all we have in this place are murderers, rapists, and thieves. But they keep yelling, “Let us in! We want to visit Jesus!”‘
“No sooner does the cop at the desk hang up the phone than it rings again. This time it’s the superintendent of the state hospital calling for help. He’s complaining that there are a bunch of weird people outside begging to be let in. They, too, want to see Jesus! The superintendent says, ‘I keep telling them Jesus isn’t here. All we have here are a bunch of nuts, but they keep yelling at us, “We want to see Jesus.”
Source: Biographical information from University of Southern Mississippi website. Sermon reported in Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You A Story
For most of us who live in the West life would be pretty difficult without motor vehicles. They have proved an enormous convenience, and though a drain on the environment, an enormous benefit to us in many ways.
But it wasn’t always the case. The first ever “horseless carriage” was built in 1769 by a Frenchman named Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot. It was an enormous three wheeled, steam powered, gun carriage, which travelled along at the neckbreaking speed of 1 kilometre per hour.
At the time I can’t imagine many people saw that great a benefit in Cugnot’s horseless carriage. It was very expensive, very noisy, and it couldn’t match the pace of even the oldest nag. Yet from that horseless carriage came a revolution.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s OK to start small, with an idea that seems crazy, and watch to see if from that embryonic vision, something great might happen.
Source: Scott Higgins. Scientific info from Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s New Moments in Science #1
What sort of person does God use? Imagine a group of people gathered before you. You need to select from among them those most likely to play a pivotal role in God’s plans for humanity. They are so at ease with you that they open up and share their darkest secrets. One tells you that after a night of heavy drinking he was sexually abused by one of his own sons. Another confesses that he gave his wife to another man to sleep with. Yet another plotted with his mistress to kill her husband. Another murdered a man and is still on the run from the law. One is a prostitute. Another has a lifestyle marked by violence – he even killed people to impress a girlfriend and his prospective father-in-law. Yet another confesses that he cheated his brother out of his inheritance.
Could you use them? I hope so, for they are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11. Noah is the man who got drunk and was sexually abused; Abraham is the man who gave his wife to sleep with another; David is the one who plotted to have his mistress’ husband killed. Moses is the one who murdered an Egyptian and was never brought to account for it. Rahab was the prostitute. Samson is the man whose life was marked by violence and who killed to impress his girlfriend. Jacob is the person who cheated his brother out of his inheritance.
Scripture shows that God uses very flawed people indeed!
Source: Scott Higgins