From Reproach to Honour - A Prophetic Story by Nathan Shaw
The Two Vessels
Before me were two earthenware vessels. The one on the left lay smashed and broken. There were fragments everywhere. The one on the right stood tall and stately. It was beautiful to behold, a vessel obviously shaped by a master craftsman. The perfection and beauty of this vessel was breathtaking. It had colours that ran together, displaying every possible shade imaginable. It must have taken hours of skilled and intricate work to make. As I turned my gaze back to the shattered fragments of the other vessel, something stirred in my heart.
"Lord why do these broken pieces of clay give me this weird uneasy feeling?"
I studied the fragments carefully, trying to figure it out. Finally I could bear it no longer. I didn't like what I was feeling. My gaze was riveted to the vessel of perfection and beauty. It gave me a sense of rest and peace. The broken pieces, however, would not leave me alone. It was like they were trying to communicate something. My curiosity caused me to continue to view them, out of the corner of my eye. How could inanimate pieces of clay have so much life? I was mystified and somewhat perplexed.
"God tell these pieces of clay to leave me alone."
The Broken Fragments
In a final attempt to appease my curiosity, I turned my gaze back to the broken shards. Each piece of clay somehow seemed familiar. Each represented something, and whatever that something was I was feeling strongly empathetic about it. As I studied each fragment, it would come to life, pulling me into some mystery it revealed. It was unbelievable, like entering into another world.
The scenes were not pleasant, in fact somewhat disturbing, but after viewing, or should I say entering into a few of them, a shocking realization came. They were events from my own life. This clay vessel represented me! Frantically I went from piece to piece, terrified of what the next fragment might reveal, until it became too much to continue. The pain in my heart was piercing and overwhelming. This couldn't be my life, it can't be true.
"Please God don't let it be true."
Shame engulfed me.
"God don't look at me, I'm so unworthy."
I could hear the reproach of others. Voices, so many voices. Voices from the past echoing and resounding in my mind.
"God why did I ever look at those clay pieces?"
I felt surrounded, and everyone was looking at me. The sense of exposure was tormenting. Reproach coming toward me was overwhelming. In desperation I frantically tried to pick up all the broken fragments and hide them so no one could see. I felt like people were throwing stones at me, causing me to double over in pain.
"God, they're sucking the very life out of me.
Get me out of this house of murder."
The pain stopped and the scene ended. Dull gray pieces of inanimate clay stared back at me.
Dazed by what had just happened, I looked up to see a Man approaching. He was of ordinary appearance but had a warm, open demeanor about Him. He got down on His hands and knees and began picking up all the many fragments of clay that represented my life. When He had gathered all the pieces, He placed them on a table and began working to piece them back together. He worked slowly and patiently with focus and determination written on His face.
As each piece of fragmented clay was joined to another, painful scenes erupted from within. There were so many fragmented sections of my heart, it was too overwhelming to consider. This Master Craftsman however, knew how much I could take at one time and would focus on one area at a time for as long as it took to accomplish the healing.
At times, when it was too much for me, He would relax and just look at me, loving me. No matter whether He was working or relaxed He always communicated love and security. His eyes were so warm and beautiful! Hidden within them was vision and destiny like I'd never known. He had so much vision for me it strengthened me.
Some fragments of clay were very sharp. He would very delicately place them together - the pain was excruciating and sometimes I lashed out at Him. He had many cuts on His fingers from handling those pieces of clay. Often I would want to give up and forget the entire painful process.
One day in particular I decided I had had enough. The seemingly intolerable pain in my heart had become unbearable or so I thought. It was causing me to question the Man's love for me. Finally, in a rage I tore myself away from His hands.
"How can this be love?!
Don't touch me, leave me alone."
I felt relief at having released myself from the Man's grip. I could see a fresh cut on His fingers. It looked deep and painful. It surprised me He didn't pick me up and smash me into a million pieces. Still, I didn't feel any remorse. I was convinced I could sort my own life out and go about it in a much more humane way.
Looking back at the man's face I saw such pain and grief I almost broke down weeping, but caught myself in time and hardened my heart.
"What do you know about pain? You don't understand."
I turned away, defiant.
The Useless Vessel
After days of trying to go it alone I found myself exhausted, confused and in more pain than before. In desperation I cried out to God.
"Help me God, I'm dying and alone."
The Lord opened my eyes and I saw a clay pot in the distance. This wasn't what I wanted to see. It had associations I'd rather forget. The clay vessel looked whole. Well, that was a relief. I felt prompted to approach the clay vessel and so started walking. It wasn't until I was really close that I realized the vessel had been glued together, and it wasn't a whole vessel after all. Many pieces were still missing. I realized the Lord was speaking to me.
This clay vessel looked whole from a distance but in reality it was useless and could hold nothing. It represented what I was trying to do. Because of my sense of shame and exposure, I had tried to make it look like I had everything all together. It was my attempt to mend my broken heart. How utterly useless. The realization hit me.
"God, forgive me for turning away from You and breaking Your heart. I surrender my life to You. I'm sorry, Lord, for accusing You of being a cruel taskmaster. I know You're not. Forgive me for my rebellion."
Consumed With Him
Once again I submitted to the Craftsman and let Him continue to piece the broken fragments of my heart together. Because of what I had been through, I determined to make it as easy as I could for the Craftsman. Still, it was not easy, but each area that was healed became another victory I could celebrate.
Most precious of all was the testimony I had of coming to know the Craftsman. In the midst of the pain, when my heart was raw and tender, I had come to seek solace in Him. He was becoming my most intimate and precious Friend. There were still many things I didn't understand, but as time went on I began to trust Him more and more. Sometimes we would laugh together and lovingly tease one another. It was a relief to be able to see the funny side of the process. I became more and more absorbed with Him.
"Jesus, whether I'm whole or broken, it doesn't matter, I just want to be with You.
I want to love You with every atom and fibre of my being."
What others thought of me and how others saw me had now become of no importance. As He became the supreme obsession of my heart, nothing else mattered.
The Glazed Vessel
I had long forgotten the broken clay vessel with its many fragments. But then a memory stirred. I had become so focused on the broken vessel that I had forgotten there was also another vessel there beside it.
I found myself in front of the table which had held the two vessels. There was the broken vessel on the left and the completed masterpiece on the right. The beautiful glaze captured and gripped my heart. Suddenly I realized it was me! It was me as I had now become. I looked closely, and every place where there had been a fracture or break, there was now a beautiful blend and mix of colours. The places of brokenness had been transformed to give the vessel its beauty and most vibrant colour. I remembered the broken pieces of dull unglazed clay and saw with great delight how He had taken away the reproach of my abandonment and neglect!
The Last Battle
There is reserved in Heaven a seat of honour for those who overcome (Revelation 3:21). In eternity it will be realized that some of the greatest overcomers have come from the ranks of those who were widowed and fatherless. In the last great battle at the end of the age, their courage will strengthen others, causing the lines not only to hold, but to advance. As the Body of Christ we will need the revelations they carry. Widows and the Fatherless will be instrumental in freeing multitudes from the reproach of the enemy. Not only are they called to be overcomers themselves, but they are to cause many others to become overcomers. The Lord is about to remove the reproach from those who have been dishonoured and despised.
"He shall regard the prayer of the destitute,
And shall not despise their prayer.
This will be written for a future generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.
For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From Heaven the LORD viewed the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death."
A cry has gone up before His throne. He is about to release the prisoners from their heavy chains.
Now is the time.
He will not delay.
© Nathan Shaw. From Unto the Least of These: Expressing God's Love to Widows and the Fatherless.
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