A few weeks ago I popped into one of my favorite local consignment/second-hand shops. I was motivated by the fact that, before long, the kids would be on summer break and my schedule would no longer be my own. So I took advantage of having the time to slowly meander the aisles, working my way around the store and relishing the joy of shopping without anyone asking me if they could buy something or having to break up ridiculous arguments over which kind of cereal we should buy. (Chocolate Chex is usually the winner by the way)
I keep a running list in my head (I probably should write it down but that would just make too much sense now, wouldn’t it?) of items that I’m always on the lookout for and on this particular day I couldn’t believe that I had finally found one of those items.
A vintage stoneware crock. And it was actually within my budget!
I proudly marched it up to the register and all of the ladies behind the counter agreed with me that this was definitely a great find.
But, as the price tag was removed, one sales clerk happened to notice that this particular crock had a large crack down the side. She very kindly brought it to my attention to make sure that I still wanted to make the purchase.
I quickly assured her that I thought the crack was part of the charm. And, in reality, it was probably why the price was so much lower than many others I’ve seen.
She wrapped it in tissue paper and I may or may not have buckled the seatbelt around it in the back seat of my car.
After I got home, I wasted no time placing the crock on my kitchen counter and loading it up with my wooden spoons and spatulas. And I proudly displayed that crack. Because, I think that crack makes the crock even more beautiful. I think it gives it character.
And, perhaps, the price tag wasn’t the only reason why I was drawn to it. Perhaps it’s because that cracked crock reminds me so much of myself and where I am in my life.
You see, there was a time when the crack might have thrown me off. And there was a time when the cracks in my own life were throwing me off. But, as a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned to view those cracks differently.
I’ve learned to see them as beautiful manifestations of the work God has done in me and through me.
James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I find this passage of scripture so amazing. Because we seem to spend most of our lives trying to avoid the trials, the difficulties, the cracks. And yet, here we read that it’s really only through them that our faith is tested so that steadfastness can be produced. Being steadfast means that we remain firm and loyal, unwavering even when we are being pulled in all directions. And, according to this verse, once our steadfastness has been proven, we are truly complete. We can be made perfect, complete, “lacking nothing” even when we meet the trials that cause cracks in our lives.
It’s not the absence of cracks in our life that makes us complete. It’s how we are able to remain whole and strong in spite of them through the power of Christ in us.
But, let me be very clear here, those cracks don’t come into our lives so that God can get evidence to gauge our worth to Him. He is God. He knows us. And He isn’t the one who needs proof of our steadfastness.
“For when God is said by these things to try men and prove them, to see what is in their hearts and whether they will keep His commandments or no, we are not to understand, that it is for His own information, or that He may obtain evidence Himself of their sincerity (for he needs no trials for His information); but chiefly for their conviction, and to exhibit evidence to their consciences…
So when God tempted or tried Abraham with that difficult command of offering up his son, it was not for His satisfaction, whether he feared God or no, but for Abraham’s own greater satisfaction and comfort, and the more clear manifestation of the favour of God to him.” (Jonathan Edwards, ‘The Religious Affections’)
God doesn’t allow the cracks in our lives so that we can prove something to Him. He allows them so that we can prove something to ourselves. Or, better yet, so that we can fully experience the sheer magnitude of His love and grace for us.
That stoneware crock on my kitchen counter is solid. Yes, it has cracks (I spotted another one after I brought it home), but it was built in such a way that it has been able to withstand them without completely falling apart.
So, I’m learning to embrace my cracks. And not only to embrace them, but to willingly put them on display, sharing the truth about my imperfections, my cracks, with those around me.
Because I hope that by sharing my cracks you will be encouraged to share your own. And that you will choose to see those cracks as opportunities to glorify Him and display the steadfastness of your faith in Him.
Thank you so much for meeting me at the Fence today,